The project to develop a sub-$100 laptop for emerging economies has taken a step closer to reality after a video apparently revealing details of the user interface was posted online.

The clip, available on YouTube, reveals the Linux-based interface that people could see when the laptops are delivered next year.

It describes the “neighbourhood” desktop interface from where users launch a variety of applications, including a Firefox web browser, an instant-messaging client and a word processor.

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative is the brainchild of MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte. He’s been working on the design of a computer with low-end components that could enable children in countries ranging from Brazil and Argentina to Nigeria and Thailand to learn computing skills. The hope is that the widespread availability of the product will keep people in poorer nations from being left behind in the digital age.

As well as running a Linux OS, the device is expected to feature a 500MHz AMD processor, 128MB of RAM and 500MB of flash memory. Furthermore, OLPC developers hope to cut costs by using a low-end flat-panel screen that could cost just $35.

Taiwanese contract manufacturer Quanta expects to make 10 million of the devices in the first year of production.