Luyanda Vappie and Motsholane Sebola, two young South African innovators, have developed one of the world's smallest personal computers (PC) that requires no physical keyboard, mouse or monitor. The PC known as Prism, uses virtual input and output peripherals.

Vappie and Motsholane say they came up with the idea approximately two years ago and then embarked to develop it under their company, Root Tech.

“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,” said Vappie.

Luyanda Vappie and Motsholane Sebola, Co-Founders of Root Tech, holding their Prism personal computer that uses a virtual keyboard, mouse, and monitor.

Improving access to technology in South Africa

Sebola and Vappie, Co-Founders of Root Tech, have said that the development of their Prism PC was motivated by the goal to enhance the mobility and usability of computing devices in areas in South Africa where telecommunications connectivity is a problem and electricity is in limited supply. Added to that, the young South African innovators have stated that they also wanted  to digitalise and improve accessibility of digital technology devices in rural areas.

“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,” said Vappie.

What makes the Prism unique in a way and cost-effective when it comes to energy consumption as well is that it has a virtual keyboard and mouse as well as a virtual screen. The pair of innovators from South Africa also have plans to include digital literacy tools pre-installed on the Prism to help first time computer users in understanding how digital technology works.

Commercialization plans

The Prism PC  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. It is portable and can be used anywhere and at any time. The aim, according to Sebola and Vappie, is to deploy the Prism to schools in areas with low connectivity as digital goods and ensure that the curriculum is available offline.

“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," said Sebola.

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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