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One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is dispatching specially “ruggedized” versions of its low-cost, low-power, Linux-running XO laptops to aid and reconstruction groups working to aid the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. The nonprofit organization, whose laptops are in the hands more than 1.4 million children in 35 countries, is working with several groups and is looking for many more that can leverage its work. “Genuinely committed groups” are invited to submit requests and explain their need for XO laptops by e-mailing help@laptop.org or better yet, by submitting a full application to the OLPC Contributors Program.

In other world-changing laptop news, the January 18 issue of Forbes features a profile of OLPC director and MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte (“The Prophet of Cheap“). Writer Andy Greenberg also provides details on OLPC’s latest initiative: to build a $75 touchscreen tablet PC for poor schoolchildren that uses less power than a lightbulb and is unbreakable, waterproof, and half the thickness of an iPhone. “Essentially, we want it to be a single sheet of plastic. No holes, no moving parts,” Negroponte tells Greenberg. “We want it to be so simple that it hardly has a design.” Hmm…genius design that doesn’t feel designed? Sounds like a job for Yves Behar, who designed the original XO, and indeed, he’s masterminding the new tablet, known as the XO-3. Here’s a sneak peek at the new device, slated for launch in 2012. Behar says that he has taken away the XO’s visual complexity and added “tactility and friendliness, touch and color.”