OLPC Keyboard Water Resistance Testing


The XO laptop keyboard is designed to be water and dust resistant, to keep it functioning in the harsh environment of a child's daily life. In fact Walter Bender braged that you can submerge the bottom half of an XO in water without damage.

Being drunk brave enough to take Walter at his word, I decided to show my friend Carl Weaver just how cool the XO laptop keyboard is, by waterboarding it in Carl's sink:

Now you might be wondering how the XO laptop fared with Northern Virginian tap water streaming across its keyboard while I randomly hit keys.

Short answer: not so well. Long answer: video:

Yeah, I really shouldn't drink and XO test. It's not safe, nor a good use case. I don't expect children to get blitzed on Carl's homemade hooch and and be the fool like me.

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I have no words, Wayan... hope it dries out!

Ouch! That is a bummer... I wonder if OLPC can send you a new keyboard? *dreams* :(

Well at least the keyboard is clean now. I also don't have the "sticky keys" problem to worry about. Just getting that boot on...

Interesting test, but probably well beyond the XO's design goals. The running water is hitting the keyboard with a lot of force, and at that angle it probably can work under the lower lip of the keyboard really well. I'd like to know how much water settled inside the unit.

If you try it agian, some sealant around the edge of the keyboard might help.


Based on some of the advice I've seen on the PDA/cell phone forums I visit, I'm going to advise not turning on the XO again until it's dried out. Attempting to operate a wet electronic device could cause the electronic components to fry themselves. :(

Fortunately, the XO is made to be taken apart, if necessary. Disassembling the XO, or at least the half that contains the keyboard, and leaving it to dry for a few days would be the best bet.

Good luck!

Walter Bender to Michael Dell:
"If he can figure out a way to make those [125 million] computers work off the grid, work in dust and mud and rain, and if he can figure out how to make those computers work in 50 degrees centigrade, make them portable, and work in different languages ... anyway, maybe he can. More power to him if he can,"

Off the grid: no solutions available yet, except prototypes
Dust: today's Planet http://planet.laptop.org/
permalink http://blog.olenepal.org/index.php/archives/281
Water: this very article.

Someone care to test for mud? :-(

We just had a post today from someone whose XO came through a sandstorm in Morocco with no difficulties:


Ha, Google is showing me "Laptop Liquidation" ads on Revver for the second video. Indeed.

This makes me really sorry I missed your Portland visit, although I won't let you anywhere near MY xo if you're out here again...

Dude, glad the other one made it to you. Don't waterboard that one...


Do not worry you are not doing "Cruel and unusual punishment" to the XO, according to what Justice Scalia said on 60 Minutes!

"I don't like torture," Scalia says. "Although defining it is going to be a nice trick. But who's in favor of it? Nobody. And we have a law against torture. But if the - everything that is hateful and odious is not covered by some provision of the Constitution," he says.

"If someone's in custody, as in Abu Ghraib, and they are brutalized by a law enforcement person, if you listen to the expression 'cruel and unusual punishment,' doesn't that apply?" Stahl asks.

"No, No," Scalia replies.

"Cruel and unusual punishment?" Stahl asks.

"To the contrary," Scalia says. "Has anybody ever referred to torture as punishment? I don't think so."

"Well, I think if you are in custody, and you have a policeman who's taken you into custody…," Stahl says.

"And you say he's punishing you?" Scalia asks.

"Sure," Stahl replies.

"What's he punishing you for? You punish somebody…," Scalia says.

"Well because he assumes you, one, either committed a crime…or that you know something that he wants to know," Stahl says.

"It's the latter. And when he's hurting you in order to get information from you…you don’t say he's punishing you. What’s he punishing you for? He's trying to extract…," Scalia says.

"Because he thinks you are a terrorist and he's going to beat the you-know-what out of you…," Stahl replies.

"Anyway, that’s my view," Scalia says. "And it happens to be correct."