The upcoming edition of the low-cost tablet “Aakash” will be having a SIM card slot, a faster processor, higher memory capacity, and will be able to function on both the android operating system and Linux.
This effort is being spearheaded by the IIT, Bombay,and they are in constant effort to ensure that improved offerings don’t result in a higher price for the tablet.
The government purchases the tablet at Rs.2,263 and the tablets are available for students at subsidised rate of Rs. 1,130.The initial plan is to roll out 50 lakh units of Aakash 3 tablet and a global tender is expected to put out in February. Members of the committee in charge of Aakash 3 indicated that they would like to access multiple vendors for the tablets instead of tying up such a large order with one or two vendors.
Those associated with the Aakash project said that computer majors were amazed with the device and there is a keen interest among several vendors to participate in this venture. The focus on indigenous component of the tablet comes in the light of the use of the “made in China” tablets for the current Aakash 2 version.
The decision by Datawind, the company, which was to manufacture the Aakash 2 tablets, to source the instrument from China came in for intense criticism as the $35 made in India tablet had been touted as a manufacturing revolution.
However, Deepak B Phatak, a professor in the department of Computer Science and a member of the committee incharge of Akash is not unduly concerned about the use of Chinese hardware.
“Where are Apple’s iphones manufactured?” Phatak asked when the question of using Chinese hardware was raised. “Today most of the hardware is made in China. At present, India has manufacturing capacity of about 300 tablets a day, and we are talking about increasing it to 1,000 a day, meanwhile China has manufacturing capacity of 1 lakh tablets a day. Our manufacturing capacities are only beginning to be set up. I see the Aakash as a catalyst for manufacturers,” Phatak said, but Phatak and other committee members stressed that the aim is to ensure that maximum manufacturing for Aakash 3 happens in India.
The IIT- Bombay professor, who is points man for Aakash, is clearly excited about the possibilities that the low-cost tablet presents.
Phatak also explained that “Earlier, the big players refused to participate in the project, now companies like Intel and others all want to be part of this low-cost tablet.”
Another member of the Aakash team explained the lack of interest partly as concerns about the manner in which India’s success with the low cost tablet would affect pricing,” an IIT professor involved in the project said that, “today after the IIT Bombay-Government of India tablet we can spot changes in the tablet pricing.”
Providing a SIM card slot is also on the cards for Aakash 3. “It could also have a SIM card slot so that people can use it as a communication device,” Phatak said. Apart from Phatak, Ashok Jhunjhunwala of IIT-Madras and his team and other partners are also involved in making the new Aakash 3.
As it is works of improving the tablet’s offering, the Aakash team has its sights set on a larger goal– ensuring that the tablets becomes a part of every students education experience. Though focused on higher education, Phatak and his team are also trying to get school children to use the tablets. “Our ultimate aim is to imbibe the usage of tablets in the education system and create an ecosystem for this. We have distributed Aakash tablets to 250 colleges across the country and asked them to come up with newer ways to use the device,” said Phatak. Aakash team has its sights set on a larger goal– ensuring that the tablets becomes a part of every students education experience. Though focused on higher education, Phatak and his team are also trying to get school children to use the tablets. “Our ultimate aim is to imbibe the usage of tablets in the education system and create an ecosystem for this. We have distributed Aakash tablets to 250 colleges across the country and asked them to come up with newer ways to use the device,” said Phatak.
Certainly a good news for the nation and we sincerely hope this brings in a revolution in our country and help people benefit from new technologies.