Changing the world through tiny sticks



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70% of the world’s population don’t have access to personal computing. Israeli startup Keepod, founded by Nissan Bahar and Francesco Imbesi of Israel and Italy respectively, are working to change that through their innovative new product: a $7 thumb drive loaded with an entire operating system. In other words, a computer on a stick. Once plugged into any laptop, netbook and desktop, the user has immediate access to all of their files, programs and settings.

Though similar ‘LiveUSB’ systems have already been created such as LInuxLive and WinToGo, Keepod claims its product has vastly improved on these models, “more limited to providing a system preview for system testing and the installation of backup solutions” (Gizmag).

The model was initially designed for banks and telecommunication companies, but Bahar and Imbesi soon realised that it had the potential for great social change, creating more opportunities for economic development and tackling issues of sustainability. It is of particular use to those living in remote and often economically disadvantaged regions. By separating the software from hardware, many users can securely share one computer, users don’t have to carry valuable devices in unsafe regions, computer maintenance cost is reduced, the computer uses less energy and computers such as those with broken drives can still be used. The USB technology that Keepod provides is low cost and easy to replace if lost or damaged. (Keepod website.) Keepod founder Bahar notes:

“Instead of manufacturing cheap computers — which will never be cheap enough — we reuse old computers. In the US alone, 85,000 computers are thrown out every single day. We can give a big percentage of them a new life with Keepod in Nairobi or anywhere else, and that one computer can serve 25 to 30 people every week. Why continue to manufacture cheap hardware when you have all this material available? It’s an ecosystem of ideas and things together.”

Keepod are already beginning to fulfil their vision of changing the world,  hoping to use their product to better manage projects dealing with a range of pressing issues in the developing world such as disease and education. Earlier this year, Keepod began their ‘Mathare Project’, the pilot project for their greater campaign ‘Keepod Unite,’ a plan to work with grassroots initiatives around the world to implement Keepod products and by doing so enable users to avoid missing out on critical economic opportunities. The Mathare Project is a plan to build local hubs inside the Mathare slums of Nairobi where locals can access Keepod devices, public computers and connectivity services. Their work there is being carried out in partnership with grassroots initiative LiveInSlums.


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