Indian government has a reputation for false claims when it comes to technology breakthroughs – the $10 laptop, which wasn’t really a laptop (turned out to be a USB stick) and then the Google Earth Killer, i.e. ISRO Bhuvan added to the technology achievements of the government and brought international shame.
Today, the Union Minister for human Resource Development, Kapil Sibal unveiled a low cost computing-cum-access device which will be priced at $35, and expects the price to gradually drop to $20 (and ultimately to $10!).
The device, scheduled to be available by 2011 is a single unit system with a touch screen and a built in key board along with a 2 GB RAM memory, wi-fi connectivity, USB port and powered by a 2-watt system to suit poor power supply areas.
Since this effort of continuous reduction in price and enhancement in capabilities would require a constant endeavour for R&D, IIT Rajasthan and some other IITs and technical institutions are setting up research teams to cover a wide range of issues in achieving our ultimate goal in terms of price and quality.
The ministry started its efforts , subsequent to lukewarm response from known corporates in this sector, by holding discussions on this concept with a group of Professors / experts at IISc, Bangalore, IIT Kanpur, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Madras and IIT Bombay. B.Tech and M.Tech students were guided to produce the mother board for such low cost devices with ample flexibility to change components. One mother board design was generated under Ministry’s guidance in the B.Tech project of a student at VIT, Vellore. The cost of bill of material worked to 47 $ at that point of time. The PCB of the mother board was got fabricated at IIT Kanpur. It could be seen that by customising the device to the needs of learners across the country, and utilizing the processor capabilities of processors suitable for the purpose, it was possible to substantially reduce the prices of such access-cum-computing devices. Then started a wave of collaboration with such interested partners. – source
- Video-conferencing facility
- Multimedia content
- Searchable Pdf reader
- Unzip tool
- Solar Panels (later).
The aim is to reach such devices to the students of colleges and Universities and to provide these institutions a host of choices of low cost access devices around Rs. 1500/- ($35) or less in near future.
OLPC in India
Today, Manipur government announced decision to procure 75,000 laptops scheme for wide coverage of school to provide each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning.
There is no doubt that a strong market exists for low cost computing devices and government can facilitate the entire process, and like I said earlier if at all this $35 laptop story is true, its a significant feat. But considering government’s technology depth (example: unable to crack Blackberry code), I am ‘cautiously optimistic‘ about the device.
And super optimistic, as an opportunity!
What about you?
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