It’s been just over a year, since the BRCK team launched their groundbreaking device – a rugged 3G router with Wi-Fi, and 8 hour battery life that’s built to be extended to work with other devices and uses.
From pieces of electronic junk assembled at the iHub a few years earlier, this became a consumer electronics device that has now been sold in 54 countries and the team is now back with the next variants of their device.
The initial device had been extended since with assistance from partners and feedback from users, some of who found that the in-built storage in the BRCK and its micro web server (which allowed users to share content over Wi-Fi) were unexpectedly and surprisingly crucial features.
The groups who showed the greatest interest in extending the capabilities of the BRCK were mainly in the education sector – comprising education providers who had content, but had challenges delivering it at schools around the world which had the challenges of electricity, internet, device failure etc. With the support of Mozilla Foundation, they were able to develop the BRCK pi – in which a Linux server was added to the BRCK, enabling content to be shared, even with zero connectivity.
Nivi, who was a co-founder of eLimu learning tablets, and who’s now the president of BRCK Education spoke of the inspiration and challenges that eLimu went through in delivering digital education through sharing text-book content in a digital format – with the main problems being uploading new content and the fragility of the imported tablets. But with BRCK content cached locally, they were able to update several eLimu tablets overnight.
BRCK was launching two devices today in Nairobi that can be ordered at the BRCK Education site:
- The BRCK Kio is a new sturdy tablet for school education. It can survive a 70-centimeter drop, is water & dust proof and is designed for kid-size hands. It has 8 hours of battery life, to last a full school day and has the latest processor from Intel. The $99 Kio is available for sale from October 1 to schools, and thereafter to the public in January 2016.
- The BRCK Kio Kit a suitcase that has a BRCK pi (server), and 40 Kio tablets. The Kio Kit has a single charging point (and can be solar-powered in hotter areas) and wireless charging sleeves in which kids drop their tablets after school to recharge, and get uploaded with new content. The Kio Kit has a single power port and a single start button that gets the entire Kio Kit running in a minute. Erik a.k.a @whiteafricam, who’s a BRCK co-founder said that wireless charging, which is still a luxury item in many parts of the world, was an essential feature here to eliminate the need for multiple charging cables (and many sockets at schools). The Kio Kit is also secured that if someone removes (steals) a Kio tablet from the school, it won’t work and can’t be flushed. An entire Kio Kit costs $5,000.
#BRCKEducation has partners at JP, Intel, Pearson, Eneza education, KnowZone, eKitabu, eLimu and Kenyatta University. It also has Chase Bank as a finance partner to enable schools to acquire Kio Kits at Kshs. 46,000 ($460) per month.