Tuesday, October 26, 2010

HRD Ministry Issues Tender For Rs 1,500-PC

Desired Functionalities and Specifications

The list of minimum functionalities desired from the device is pretty impressive which include Support for video web Conferencing, Multimedia content viewer (.pdf, docx,.jpeg etc.), Media player capable of playing streamed as well as stored media files, Internet browsing, Wireless communication for Audio/video, Cloud computing option, Remote device management capability, Rendering YouTube and other online video services.

The specifications include suitable motherboard, QWERTY keyboard, mouse and a minimum display of 7 inch color LCD/TFT (Touch screen optional) besides three hours or more uninterrupted operation through battery or battery less device. Battery support through solar cell, or Hybrid Capacitor, embedded webcam are other desirable features expected in the device. Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Rajasthan, has been allotted two projects for purchase and intensive testing of the device. The institute will purchase 100,000 such devices and carry out intensive laboratory and field tests across the country to ensure suitability in all geographical regions and in all climatic conditions.

It would be unfair to compare this tablet with any other tablet available in the market. While the other tablets aim at the so called aspirational sections of the society, the ones who have access to the technological gains and who are willing to adapt, this tablet is meant for those who are deprived from such gains.

The Real test

Touted as the world’s cheapest computing tablet, the device so far has created much hoopla amongst the masses. But the real test is to find manufacturers who will be able to produce these devices at such a low price and continue doing it. But this also gives opportunity to innovate and evolve. Remember,  when Tata Nano was announced every other business said that it can’t be made that cheap. Now, Nissan, Renault, Honda and many other companies are trying to follow suite.

This low cost tablet could serve as another chance to demonstrate our technological prowess and by all means a challenge worth fighting for. The device can open the world of possibilities for dramatic technology-aided development and universal access to information and knowledge. Being wired and connected would be doubly advantageous for a youthful society like ours. But without quality power supply, modern roads and housing, our human resource potential would remain unrealized and suboptimal. We want this device to transform the education sector but to leverage the huge societal potential of efficient and lowcost computing, the general neglect of public education – teacher absenteeism, lack of basic facilities  particularly at the primary and secondary levels need to be set right.

Whether this tablet will be a reality or just another attempt to lure the citizens? Whether it will achieve all the objectives it is destined for?  Whether it will gain acceptance from the masses as a ubiquitous computing device? The questions are manifold. And the answers to these questions will affect the society and hence the individuals.

It is fun to be cynical but faith works in wondrous ways.  So I am hopeful that this device will transform the education sector and society. Are you? Do let me know your views on it.

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Categories: News, Technology
Tags: HRD Ministry, kapil sibal, Low cost computing device, low cost laptop, Rs 1500 laptop, Tablet

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