In a world pilot project, low technology and high technology are coming together to bring Internet access to one of the poorest places on Earth.

Villagers in Laos — one of the most bombed places in the world, thanks to the Vietnam War — will soon be using a wireless network and pedal-powered computers to connect to the Internet.

The project, called Jhai PC, is run by a non-government organization called Jhai Foundation. (Jhai means “hearts and minds working together.”)

Besides being a huge benefit to Laos villagers, the project could prove to be a model for other poor areas.

“We expect to document it extensively,” Jhai Foundation chair Lee Thorn recently told “We see it as stage one of a project to link villagers in remote areas to each other and to people like us who are interested in Lao villagers’ success.”

Unique hardware

The hardware required for the project is unique in many ways.

For starters, the computers are powered by electricity stored in a car battery that’s charged by bicycle wheels and pedals hooked to a small generator.

The computers are then connected through a wireless local area network to a solar-powered repeater station. The repeater station communicates by radio signal with a nearby microwave tower that in turn connects to a distant Internet server.

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