When we set out to build the BRCK, we wanted to take care of the rampant connectivity and power issues that prevent many people in the developing world from being as efficient or as effective in their jobs. We did this, and we ended up becoming one of Kenya’s first consumer electronics’ companies. We were very excited about this, and the recognition we were getting, but the BRCK was built to be much more. When it was designed, we included a USB port and a micro web server, that at the time, just seemed like cool features. Over time, we came to appreciate that they were so much more. You could access content from the BRCK but we felt this was not enough, so we combined the BRCK with a Raspberry Pi computing module to give it a bit of a boost. This enabled access to rich and interactive websites and content, from the same rugged form factor as the original BRCK.
There are numerous challenges facing education in developing countries. Since the BRCK together with the Pi, enables access of locally-cached and web-hosted content, we thought it could prove a useful tool to both teachers and students if they could access up-to-date educational materials, and give them an edge and enable them to compete with schools with more resources. This was in line with our ethos of promoting equality in education and levelling the playing field by using the same technologies as the rest of the world but tweaked to our particular context. At BRCK Education, we do not think the only sources of knowledge and information in a classroom should be teachers and textbooks. The four walls of a classroom should not limit a child’s access to learning, playing and growing. This technology, however, cannot replace the role of a teacher. It makes access to information much easier.
The easiest way to deliver educational content to students is through tablet computers. Initially, tablets, even the ones made for schools, were not durable and did not have the kind of features we needed: a long battery life, an easy-to-use interface and some sort of durability. Until now. Due to the demands of our environments, and the fact that children are bound to drop and spill fluids on the tablets, we designed and engineered the Kio Tablet, to be rugged, adaptable and unbelievably functional. We built the Kio specifically to the needs we exhaustively identified during our field tests in schools. Even with the progress we made, we felt like we had only climbed half the mountain.
Having the tablets was well and good, but tablets need to be charged. One of the barriers to using tablets effectively is the inconvenience of remembering to charge them and the fact that charging cables break frequently. Also, tablets present a security fear: they are small and can be easily stolen. So, how about a rugged kit, that provides both the charging and security needed for the tablets in one go? The Kio Kit. It comes with wireless charging and is lockable, and in case a tablet is taken away from it, we built the firmware to prevent flashing of its operating system. The Kio Kit can hold and charge 40 tablets, each of which can run for 8 hours on a single charge.
What we are doing is not just selling technology. We passionately believe in our ability to positively impact the quality of learning of students in Kenya. But, we cannot do this alone. We are proud that both local and international organizations, both big and small, have joined us to make this dream a reality. The Kio Kit will be available for pre-order today, limited availability begin on November 1st and we expect general availability from January 1st 2016. The Kio Kit will go for USD 5,000 and a Kio Tablet will go for USD 100.