Spot the apartheid:
The USB flash drive is one of the most simple, everyday pieces of technology that many people take for granted.
Now it’s being eyed as a possible solution to bridging the digital divide, by two colourful entrepreneurs behind the start-up Keepod.
Nissan Bahar and Franky Imbesi aim to combat the lack of access to computers by providing what amounts to an operating-system-on-a-stick.
In six weeks, their idea managed to raise more than $40,000 (£23,750) on fundraising site Indiegogo, providing the cash to begin a campaign to offer low-cost computing to the two-thirds of the globe’s population that currently has little or no access.
The test bed for the project is the slums of Nairobi in Kenya.
As most of our readers would know, I employ the tag Apartheid State Update ironically when writing about Israel’s diversity or unique generosity to poor people around the world. So how does this story qualify?
It will allow old, discarded and potentially non-functional PCs to be revived, while allowing each user to have ownership of their own “personal computer” experience – with their chosen desktop layout, programs and data – at a fraction of the cost of providing a unique laptop, tablet or other machine to each person.
[T]he pair have teamed up with LiveInSlums – a non-governmental organisation operating in Mathare – to introduce the flash drives to students and staff at WhyNot Academy.
Like other schools in East Africa, the school uses text books and chalk boards to teach.
Two years ago it was connected to the electricity supply.
During a visit to the school in March, Mr Bahar and Mr Imbesi decided to buy a router and a Sim card to hook the classrooms up to the internet.
Their solution involved hanging the router in a carrier bag nailed next to one of two plug sockets in the school.
It looked makeshift, but that didn’t prevent the children cheering when it was announced the academy had gone online.
“It makes it possible for anyone with a Keepod to use any computer and get the same experience,” says Mr Bahar.
“Each child will see their own files and apps appear in exactly the same way each time, without the need to remember lots of passwords.”
The amazement and excitement at seeing these old laptops come to life was palpable inside the classroom.
And the children stayed long after classes had ended to explore and set up their new devices.
Nice story, BTL, but still not seeing the connection to Israel.
Keepod is never going to be a huge money-spinner, but the idea is that it will eventually support itself.
Mr Bahar and Mr Imbesi’s plan is for locally employed workers to buy the flash drives on the open market, install the operating system and a few essential apps, and then sell them on for a small gain.
The final price would be $7 (£4.15), delivering about a $2 profit on each device that would help cover wages and the further expansion of the project.
Still not seeing it? How about a picture?
Keepod is Hebrew for the word hedgehog. It is also a play on words, as it joins the English word “keep” with the Hebrew word “od”, meaning “everything”.
Hebrew? What does Hebrew have to do with this?
BTL, you don’t mean these two entrepreneurs are…?
If you ‘re reading this, you’re using a computer and know that frustration of being away from your machine, and not being able to access your precious files. Yes, there are useful innovations like Google’s Drive and other browser-based sharing programs, but what if you could keep your whole digital soul on you all the time?
Enter Keepod, the Israeli startup with a simple but revolutionary vision – to transfer all the computing from a PC to a disk-on-key, or in geek-speak, a USB flash drive.
Recently the company announced another project called KeepodUnite, in the context of activity for corporate social responsibility.
“Every year tens of millions of computers are tossed into the garbage in the United States alone,” explains Bahar. “These computers are good for us. We have formed a partnership that will enable us to bring such computers to the third world, to the five billion people who are still not connected to the Internet, with our part being a system of USB devices with the KeepodOS system on it.”
The second story is from Haaretz, last December. The first story, scrubbed of any reference to Israel, is from the BBC, yesterday. Heckuva job, BBC, rendering a story of Israeli philanthropy judenrein.