When Tata Motors unveiled the Tata Nano—the $2500 car, the automative world was taken by storm. The engineering minds behind the cheapest family car pulled off something no other company could. The Government of India had similar plans for computers. The OLPC project showed promise but did not catch up. They (the organization behind OLPC) have however been able to attract some state governments to join them.
(Image courtesy AndroidOS.in)
Union Minister for Human Resourced Development in India, Kapil Sibal, talked about introducing a low cost tablet device for students. Everyone was skeptical. A $35 tablet that’s usable? Nobody had their hopes high. The project ran into troubles when HCL decided to pull out of the project. (They were going to manufacture the device.) Engineers at IIT Rajasthan were tasked with developing the device and a prototype was shown on national television.
A few days ago reports of the government finally launching the tablet on 5th October emerged. I wasn’t sure about the story; lo and behold, the rumors were true. Kapil Sibal officially launched the tablet. The device is called “Aakash” (Hindi for “Sky”) and is manufactured by British firm—DataWind—at their Hyderabad facility. Device specifications for the Aakash UbiSlate 7 are:
The specifics of the program are:
Seamless connectivity to provide Internet connection on the devices for institutes was talked about. The government hopes to connect 416 universities and 20,000 colleges using BSNL as the service provider. The government claims 80% of the target connectivity has been achieved. The government has outlined details around content creation meant for the tablet’s use in education. Some of the guidelines to be followed are:
One of the key announcements at the tablet launch was the commercial availability of Aakash. The government plans to make this tablet available through retail channels at an anticipated price of $60. The device will be called DataWind Ubislate.