MIT Media Lab and Instituto Technologico de Costa Rica demonstrate inexpensive 'Intelligent Community Centers' for linking the world with the newest technology


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- From the most remote mountaintop to the least accessible jungle, every under-developed region of the world could be linked to the latest educational, medical, commerce and arts services if the portable "intelligent community centers" being developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Instituto Technologico de Costa Rica were adopted for worldwide development.

Two prototype units, built from recycled 20-foot cargo containers, were demonstrated today at both the MIT Media Lab and in Costa Rica. Both community centers feature telemedicine, computer classroom, banking, modern telecommunications, and entertainment facilities.

The Little Intelligent Communities (LINCOS) project will initially seek to place community centers in 25 poor villages in Central America. The Costa Rican Foundation For Sustainable Development, headed by former Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres, will take the lead role in construction and deployment of the community centers.

"By combining advanced construction methods using recycled materials, and the latest digital communications technology, we will be able to bring first-class services anywhere in the world at a price that almost any country can afford," said Alex (Sandy) Pentland, Academic Head of the MIT Media Lab and co-Director of the Center for Future Health.

By using wireless Internet technology, the centers do not require a community to have land-lines and other standard telecommunications infrastructure in order to obtain first-class information services. This technological independence equalizes the cost differences between richer and poorer societies, as well as urban and rural areas, making first-class services possible in the poorest and most remote villages.

The community centers contain a wireless satellite data link and wireless local Intermit, for data and voice communications. At a target cost of less than $100 per family, the centers will be capable of providing telephone, email and Web services to the most remote villages on earth. In addition to the applications demonstrated today, future community centers will provide advanced ecological and agricultural testing facilities.

For additional details see http://www.media.mit.edu/unwired


Topics: Media Lab, Technology and society, Global

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