The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project targets five million impoverished children in the developing world, but work is already underway to trial them among indigenous populations in Australia, and the BBC reports a deal is in the works with eBay for worldwide sales of the simple laptop.
Currently being produced for about 150 U.S. dollars each, the durable, easy-to-use XO laptop is the brainchild of MIT Media Lab and Nicholas Negroponte, who billed it revolutionary for children's education.
Allowing poor children access to modern technologies, MIT argued, would give those who don't have access to teachers and schools the ability teach themselves.
"Poor children lack opportunity, not capacity for learning," reads a description on the OLPC website. "By providing laptops to every child without cost to the child, we bring the poor child the same opportunities for learning that wealthy families bring to their children."
Millions of the laptops are already being built for Rwanda, Argentina, Brazil, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Thailand and Uruguay, and it is understood they will be ready for distribution by July.
But it is fast being realized that many Australian communities could also benefit from the project.
Rangan Srikhanta, a treasurer with the United Nations Association of Australia, is liasing with local governments, universities and the OLPC group to organize local trials.
He said there are many children in "developed" countries, such as Australia, that are exposed to conditions typical of those expected in developing countries.
"We are working to get this laptop to the Northern Territory, where we feel that it could be very beneficial," he said. "There are numerous other areas in Queensland, WA, SA, NSW, Vic and Tas that hold equal potential."
Sharron Noske, deputy chief executive of planning and resources for the Northern Territory Department of Employment, Education and Training (DEET), said two samples were being tested to decide whether to go ahead with a trial program.
Although the focus of the OLPC project is mainly on delivering five million laptops to developing nations, one idea for commercial viability is for Western citizens to sponsor a machine for a developing world child.
It's possible that eBay could be a partner in selling the laptops said Michalis Bletsas, chief connectivity officer for the project. The thought is a person could purchase one computer for personal use and a second to be donated to a needy child.
"If we started selling the laptop now, we would do very good business," Bletsas said, speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nev.
For 150 dollars, the XO laptop offers an array of features including a webcam, microphone, wireless networking, SD memory card slot and built-in speakers.
"I'd like to make sure that kids all around the world start to communicate. It will be a very interesting experiment to see what will happen when we deploy a million laptops in Brazil and a million laptops in Namibia."
Bletsas said he hoped the laptop project would help children enrich their lives to the extent that one day they could become consumers of the types of technologies on display in Las Vegas.
"We are trying to help the governments -- that ranges from donating resources, to making sure that we work with them and that they don't consider the laptop as something that can work in a disconnected environment," he said.
"It's vitally important that children are connected. My ambition is that we will get them connect to a vast amount of information that is unavailable to them."