One of the neatest companies at VON was a tiny non-profit in the Asterisk booth called Inveneo. Inveneo is bringing modern communications technology to the third world. For environments where electricity isn’t available, they’ve designed a low-powered computer system (10 watt, with a 10 watt display), powered from a battery source, which is in turn charged by either a bicycle powered generator, or a solar panel. One hour of cycling is enough to charge the battery for four hours of use. It can be used for all kinds of purposes, including communications using VoIP, and, of course, Asterisk.
I chatted with Kristin Peterson, one of the co-founders. It was inspirational. They’ve packaged these systems as products to sell to NGO’s for deployment in Africa and other impoverished parts of the world. Right now, one of their deployments is in the southern USA, where they’re helping to establish communication again in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Rich Tehrani has a more information on Inveneo on his blog.