A World First: Smallest Personal Computer Developed By South Africans

Original Author: Neel Ket
Original Publications: iAfrica
Date: 25 JULY 2019

Two young South African innovators are aiming their sights high when it comes to disrupting modern day computing. Their claim to fame is that they’ve built the world’s first personal computer (PC) with virtual input and output peripheral.

In a move set to enhance the mobility and usability of computing devices in areas where connectivity is an issue and electricity is in limited supply, these innovators have created a PC that does not require physical keyboard, mouse and monitor.

Luyanda Vappie from Eastern Cape and Motsholane Sebola from Limpopo came up with this idea 2 years ago. This was necessitated by the need to digitalise and improve accessibility of technological gadgets in rural areas.

A World First: Smallest Personal Computer Developed By South African Innovaters

The device, called Prism, is a world first in that it is a personal computer that has a virtual keyboard and mouse as well as a virtual screen. Prism aims to enhance digital skills by improving the accessibility of digital literacy tools.

This PC is a small compact unit that produces around 2Ghz of processing power, it has bluetooth, wireless, LAN and a battery that lasts about 2 hours. The on-board memory is 64GB and is extendable by SD Card to 200+GB.

Vappie and Sebola grew up with particular interests in software engineering, systems development and business analysis. They both studied Information Technology at university level. They always dreamed of becoming the best technology developers in the country, with a clear vision of making smart technologies accessible to ordinary South Africans.

“It has also always been our dream to improve our country, especially the rural communities. Technologies need to be usable and accessible in areas where electricity was limited,” says Vappie.

Vappie added that the device would change the way people think about computers. “It is portable and can be used anywhere and at any time. Our aim is to deploy it to schools in areas with low connectivity as digital goods and ensure that the curriculum is available offline,” he says.

“We have several deployment models that include tooling, up-skilling and employment of local resources to support devices deployed at schools. We are excited to contribute towards the realisation of the United Nations Sustainable Goal for Quality Education and have been invited to speak at a number in United Nations conference on how technology can contribute to the Quality Education SDG,” says Vappie.

Sebola says Prism represents the future of computing, saying that the fourth industrial revolution presents the opportunity for young people to be innovative.

“What we have essentially done is create virtualised components for input and output devices and in a compact unit that can be used anywhere. An all in one solution that incorporates virtual input peripherals and display in a single convenient package. It is highly interactive and usable in both urban and rural environments.”

Their future plan is to successfully commercialise this product and build a manufacturing facility in South Africa that will create more engineering jobs for young people, especially those in the rural areas. The two now own a company called Root Tech, an African original equipment manufacturer (OEM) based in Johannesburg working in the consumer electronics market.

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