"Three Text Messages That Are Changing Africa"
Sudan’s first steps in establishing innovation labs

UNICEF Uganda is developing and deploying open source “Mobi-Station” prototypes in Uganda starting Q3 and Q4 2013, as part of its portfolio to enhance the outcome of universal primary education in Uganda. (In a previous blog post, we briefly outlined the “Mobi-Station (Digital School in a Box)” initiative: http://unicefstories.org/2013/06/27/upgrading-digital-school-in-a-box-mobi-case/)

The innovation team in UNICEF Uganda has developed a few versions of Mobi-Stations prototypes over the past year. Picture below showcases one version of these prototypes. Evaluated against a metrics of functions, durability, power consumption etc., past Mobi-Station prototypes have resulted in improved design and produced valued know-how in mobile learning. Technical specifications are open source and publically available to everyone. You can find (attached) in this blog post technical specifications of the most recent prototype.


In an effort to perfect the design and pilot Mobi-Stations in schools and communities in rural Ugandan, we are excited to start exploring the potential for research collaborations with technology, manufacture and academic partners in the coming months. The research collaboration would modify the design, manufacture, conduct user testing and deploy approximately 50 Mobi-Stations. Research findings, including technical specifications developed, will be published in a collaborative research report by UNICEF and the partner. 

Suggested Research Process


Research Principles

Research output will be open source and publically available, allowing the research pilot to benefit a global audience providing a unique opportunity for the research partner to be technical research pioneer for access to education in resource-scarce environments. It’s understood that all technical specifications and prototypes will be in the public domain, with open source licenses such as BSD, TAPR, AGPL, CC-A-BY-SA etc.

Research Output

We would like to explore potential collaboration opportunities with companies and academic instituions to achieve the following:

  • Open source “Mobi-Station” prototypes manufactured, deployed and tested over a year
  • Sharing of open source “Mobi-Station” technical specifications
  • Collaborative research with UNICEF Uganda published as a UNICEF Volume (for sample report published from a previous research collaboration, see http://unicefstories.org/research/ccm/)
  • UNICEF Innovation unit will explore potential to test and pilot prototypes and share knowledge and information in the public domain with UNICEF country offices


Appendix: Basic Manufacturing and Assembling Requirements

Information below outlines the minimum technical requirements we have for the Mobi-Station. Please refer to the document attached for detailed technical specifications.

Video Projector
The projector we are now using is 500 lumens with a power consumption of 60 watts. Input current should be dc, this way we can avoid having to use an inverter.

Protective Case

An injection molded case that will house and protect the components for the Digital School in a Box. The case is to be made from a chemical-resistant, corrosion-resistant hi impact rigid plastic. Case to utilize an O-ring waterproof seal and padlockable hasps.

USB 3 port hub with Audio out and Mic.
For users to connect a memory stick or modem, Audio out for headphones and microphone

USB 4 port hub
To connect USB out from computer to 3 port hub with audio and document presenter.

Document Presenter
5.0 Megapixel
Highest Resolution, 2592 x 1944
Max Shooting Area, 12.2″ x 9.1″ (310mm x 230mm)
Digital Zoom, 6x
Macro Focus, Up to 2” (5cm)
Adjustment Arm

12v, 24Ah lead acid battery. Prototype uses four 12v 7.5Ah batteries for reduced height and better weight distribution

Solar Charge Controller
Charge current max., 40A
Load current max., 40A
System voltage. 12, 24

Relay Driver
System Voltage 12 to 48 Volts
Max. Channel Current 750 mA
Accuracy, Voltage 2% ± 50 mV
Protection 1500 W / channel
Comm. Ports (2) RJ-11 meter bus
(opto-isolated) connections
9-pin serial RS-232

Solar Panels
Solar panels need to be portable and set up with in 10m of case. 2, 60W Solar panels that are hinged together and a carrying handle added.      

12v LED Battery Monitor, voltage and charge indicator
User need to be able to tell remaining battery life

15 watt Battery powered speaker connected to laptop

Water resistant and rugged keyboard, 1.8Ghz, 2GB ram, 320GB hard drive (required to load UNICEF content)
Power consumption is 10 watts

PDF: RFQ Appendix

Zhiyao Ma
Innovation Unit, UNICEF NYHQ

"Three Text Messages That Are Changing Africa"
Sudan’s first steps in establishing innovation labs