India to mass produce common man's computer

Wednesday, 30 October 2002, 08:00 Hrs   |    1 Comments
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BANGALORE: Simputer, a simple, inexpensive computer developed by Indian scientists, will go into mass production from next month to popularize its use.

PicoPeta Simputers, owned by four innovative scientists and backed by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, and the public sector Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) have announced an alliance to produce 50,000 Simputers in the first year of manufacture.

"Our production target for the first year is 50,000," said Nagarjun K., manager of product development, PicoPeta Simputers.

The Simputer -- short for Simple, Inexpensive, Multilingual Computer -- is a small, desktop computing device.

"We will be producing 1,000 Simputers in November at a price of 13, 000 (about $260) each, inclusive of taxes and duties, and they will be immediately available in the market."

"We have won two multinationals (one India-based and another non-India-based) and a few NGOs, but we cannot announce their names now," Nagarjun said.

The devices will be marketed as BEL-PicoPeta Simputers through the public sector giant's distribution network. And they will cover a spectrum of applications and price points.

BEL, at a state-of-the-art facility in the Bangalore Complex, has manufactured at least 400 Simputers for PicoPeta in the pilot production phase and, already deployed some for an education project in the tribal areas of Chattisgarh.

The BEL-PicoPeta Simputers are a radical improvement over the earlier Simputer prototypes on several fronts. "Our aim is to reduce the price to 10, 000, once large scale production begins," Nagarjun added.

The first product will have a notepad, spread sheet, "scientific" calculator, address book, image viewer, MP3player, games, quiz, tools for text to speech, smart card, and Malacca, an interface to make it more customer friendly.

But different varieties of BEL-PicoPeta Simputers will be produced. The high-end variety with key hand picked innovations along with the ability to support a wired and wireless options will be available by February 2003.

"It is an important step to utilize the opportunities in the huge IT hardware, domestic and global markets, with BEL-PicoPeta Simputers, a 100 percent Indian innovation designed and manufactured to world class standards," V.K. Koshy, chairman and managing director, BEL, said in a statement.

"The goal of the Simputer project was to design, develop and manufacture in India world class devices to meet the developing world's unique requirement," said Swami Manohar, CEO of PicoPeta.

The Simputer was designed and developed by four scientists from IISc -- Vijay Chandru, Vinay, K. Hariharan and Manohar, and three from the private IT company, Encore software, headed by Vinay Deshpande.

Their decision was an offshoot of a discussion at 1998 on bridging the digital divide.

Source: IANS
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