While many school districts are stocked with iPads and Chromebooks that can make use of speedy Wi-Fi networks, there are many more with poor connectivity -- or even none at all. Intel hopes to help those schools with its new Education Content Access Point, which it designed to serve up content in various network environments.
The Education Content Access Point resembles a flying saucer in its design with a thickness of a little more than an inch and the ability to be mounted on the wall. Inside is an Atom E3815 processor, 2GB of RAM, 8GB of flash storage, and an optional 500GB hard drive. The device runs Ubuntu 12.04 and includes a lithium-ion battery so it can offer up to 5 hours of battery backup in case it's disconnected from a power source.
It can tap in to networks either through its built-in Ethernet port or integrated Wi-Fi. For cases where there's no local network, the Education Content Access Point can be optionally equipped with cellular capability (allowing it to serve as a personal hotspot for a classroom), or files can be transferred onto it via the included USB 3.0 port. At 21 ounces, the server can easily be moved from room to room, if necessary.
The Education Content Access Point can deliver content to up to 50 students simultaneously via a Web browser. The school system can load its lessons or materials onto the hard drive for teachers, or educators can upload and serve their own lesson plans and files.
Intel's new device should be particularly attractive to schools in emerging nations, where Internet connectivity can often be limited. The company says it will be working with various commercial partners to get the Education Content Access Point into the hands of educators, though the company has not disclosed any pricing guidelines for the server.