To BEE solar powered or not to BEE

September 8th, 2008

Today the drums are beating about BEE and worker BEE a newly developed solar powered communications hub/system.   BEE has been “developed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in conjunction with their partners, to provide connectivity, information, and opportunity to people and communities in remote or emergency situations”.   Queen BEE and Worker BEE come in a package that will cost approximately US$6,000, although it is said that costs will come down with production at scale.

It is good that the BEE uses Linux and a range of open source software.  But why is there a need to re-invent the hardware when there are existing alternatives, such as Aleutia’s 4.5 inch solar powered Linux computer, E1. E1 that runs on 8 watts of power and costs $400.   Not to mention the whole range of ultra-portable laptops (see previous post on lilliputers).

More positive news is that the specifications and designs of the system are to be available as creative commons and open source.  That is a very positve step that should enable a whole industry of third party developers and manufacturers to contribute to the aims of the project.

I guess the real test will be the flavour of the honey produced by using these systems in the real world.   To that end UNICEF are hoping to test in five different locations.   Please let me know if you have a “hive” in mind.

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