INTERNATIONAL - Zimbabwean AI expert William Sachiti, Chief Executive of UK-based start-up Academy of Robotics has published an open-source technology known as ‘Trees of Knowledge’ to improve access to education through smartphones in Africa.
This free-to-develop technology enables a tree or rural landmark to broadcast a wifi connection providing access to a pre-loaded package of educational content. The wifi connection and content comes from a micro-computer moulded into the landmark to protect it from theft or damage.
Anyone within a roughly 100m radius can then access the content on any mobile device free of charge. Users can also charge their phone by plugging it into the accompanying solar-powered battery charging station. The micro-computers will run on the power equivalent of a small rechargeable battery and can run for years without maintenance. All the user needs is a wifi-enabled device such as a phone, tablet, laptop or computer. There is no need for the phone to be connected to a carrier or any network provider, removing the issue of expensive data charges.
The technology uses a basic computer like the Raspberry Pi computers which have been used in refugee camps in Lebanon by UNICEF as part of its Raspberry Pi for Learning initiative.
AI expert and serial entrepreneur, William Sachiti, who was educated in Zimbabwe before moving to the UK where he started his first technology company at 19 years old highlights the challenges.