In 2009, SolarLEAP founder Charles Watson took a gap year between high school and university to work on a solar-powered computer project he started in high school. A self proclaimed computer nerd, he recognized the power of the computer and internet access to answer almost any question he had and to learn anything he was interested in. He believed that all students, regardless of whether they lived in areas with access to electricity, should be able to benefit from the power of computers as well. The senior project's original prototype showed that solar powered computers were viable, affordable technology that could be built using retail parts: all that was missing was someone with the vision to turn theory into a real, tangible product.
SolarLEAP's low-voltage solar powered computer provides powerful educational tools to communities around the world. The unique low cost, low power consumption computers are designed specifically for off grid areas and places with unreliable power grids. The computers run Windows and Linux and contain a vast digital library including materials such as Khan Academy courses, providing a real-life and relevant computer education and knowledge library. Students living in rural areas can now enjoy the same level of computer based, internet enabled education as their peers around the world.
With 1.4 billion people living without access to electricity, nearly a quarter of the population, this technology has the potential to make waves. More than 100 SolarLEAP computers have been built and distributed in schools and orphanages throughout the world. The computers have a proven track record in both Nepal and Ghana, where 15 schools and one orphanage have been using these computers for over three years.
The video below shows an installation of a computer lab in the Philippines that Synergy joined Charles on.