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A TECHNICAL SEMINAR

On

SIMPUTER
In partial fulfillment for the award of degree of

Bachelor of Technology

In

Computer Science and Engineering


Submitted by

SANTOSH RAO CHANNAMANENI

07E71A0539

Under the guidance of

MR.P.V.S.RAM PRASAD

DEPARTMENT OF COMPUTER SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING

VATHSALYA INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY


(AFFILIATED TO JNT UNIVERSITY, HYDERABAD)

ANANTHARAM, BHONGIR, NALGONDA.

2010-2011

VATHSALYA INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 1


VATHSALYA INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

(Affiliated to JNT University, Hyderabad)

Anantharam, Bhongir.

DEPARTMENT OF COMPUTER SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING

2010-2011

CERTIFICATE
This is to certify that the technical seminar entitled “SIMPUTER” that is being
submitted by SANTOSH RAO CHANNAMANENI (07E71A0539) in partial
fulfillment of the requirement for the Award of the degree of Bachelor Of Technology in
COMPUTER SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING to the Jawaharlal Nehru
Technological University is a record of bonafide work carried out by them under my
guidance and supervision.

The results embodied in this technical seminar have not been submitted to any other
University or Institute for the Award of any Degree.

Head of the Department Project Coordinator

(Mr. P.V.S. RAM PRASAD) (Mr. K.HARI)

Principal
(Prof. Sri. Dr. B RAVEENDRANATH SINGH)

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Acknowledgement

It gives us immense pleasure to acknowledge with gratitude, the help and support
extended throughout the technical seminar from the following:

We will be very much grateful to almighty our parents who have made us capable of
carrying out our job.

We express our profound gratitude to our principal Prof. Sri. Dr. B


RAVEENDRANATH SINGH , of Vathsalya Institute of Science and Technology,
who has encouraged in completing our technical seminar successfully.

We are grateful to Mr. P.V.S. RAM PRASAD who is our Head of the Department,
CSE, for his amiable ingenious and adept suggestions and pioneering guidance during
the technical seminar.

We express our deep sense of gratitude and thanks to coordinator MR.K.HARI for
his support during the technical seminar.

We are also very thankful to our Management, staff members and all our friends for
their valuable suggestions and timely guidance without which we would not have been
successful in completion of the technical seminar.

SANTOSH RAO CHANNAMANENI

(07E71A0539)

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INDEX
INTRODUCTION 4

SYSTEM OVERVIEW 6

SIMPUTER LICENSING 10

SIMPUTER SPECIFICATION 11

APPLICATION SOFTWARE 13

ILMI 14

APPLICATIONS 19

INTERFACES 21

FEATURES 22

CONCLUSION 30

FUTURE ENHANCEMENTS 32

BIBILOGRAPHY 33

PPT

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INTRODUCTION
OBJECTIVE

Even the poorest of the poor will pay for the service, if that service improves in some
way their quality of life.Several corporates are now addressing rural markets and they
have the need for information and communication infrastructure in remote rural
locations.

For achieving this the Simputer project was conceived during the organization of Global
Village, an International Seminar on Information Technology for developing countries,
conducted during Banglore IT.com event in October 2001.

If the right service is made accessible in the right way information technology can impact
the lives of people all over the world.The Simputer is a low cost portable alternative to
PCs, by which the benefits of IT can reach the common man.It has a special role in the
third world because it ensures that knowledge of English in no longer barrier to handling
a computer.

The Simputer is a
self-contained, open
hardware hand held

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computer, designed in environments where computing devices such as personal
computers are deemed inappropriate.

It's simple, it's portable. At about Rs. 9,000 per piece, it's highly affordable. It is
compatible with your everyday PC, helps you check e-mail, browse the Net, keep
accounts, and get information.When the invention of the Simputer(Simple Computer)
was announced in 2001, it instantly captured the imagination of the world. The venerable
New York Times called it the most important invention of 2001 ahead of Apples G4 and
Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system. Here was a computer that was rewriting
every rule associated with computers.
The goal of the Simputer project is to harness the potential of Information and
Communication Technology (ICT) for the benefit of the weakest sections of society. The
software developed by the Simputer Trust will be under GNU GPL and the hardware
developed will be under Simputer General Public License (SGPL).
The Simputer is also known as a Simple Inexpensive Multilingual Computer, is
important in surveying its projected uses. The Simputer was originally planned to be a
stand-alone computing device with a simple user interface, and features like speech
synthesis that made it work for very low-attainment users. Various usage models were
considered, but the key to the ‘Inexpensive’ aspect was the shared model.
The device was to enable large groups of users to share one device, possibly
purchased communally. Individual users were expected to own smartcards that enabled
them to store their information offline. A potential owner for a Simputer would thus be a
village council, or a cooperative, or any group of people willing to share it. Public funds
could potentially be applied towards such purchases.

SYSTEM OVERVIEW

ABOUT SIMPUTER:

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The Simputer which is a SIMple compUTER, is known as,
Simple Inexpensive Multilingual Computer Simputer, in terms of screen size (320x240),
memory capabilities(32MB RAM) and the OS (GNU/Linux). It runs on an Intel strong-
arm chip. The chip is known for its low power consumption. The Simputer runs on three
AAA batteries or off the mains. It can also use rechargeable batteries, but the charger is
not built in. Thus, the Simputer is basically a low-cost computer with multiple
connectivity options. It will be modular and based entirely on free software from the
Open Source Initiative. Its primary input will be a touch-sensitive overlay on the LCD
display panel.

The primary application interface would be a browser that can render the
Information Markup Language. IML is a new XML application being designed
specifically for handheld devices like the Simputer. The use of XML-based language is in
line with the philosophy of utilizing global Internet standards. To the rural Indian poor,
and even to most city dwellers, a computer is probably as remote an option as a trip to the
moon. But things are about to change.

The Brains Behind The Concept

A small group of scientists of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore


and some engineering professionals from the firm Encore Software have designed this
simple device, and set up a trust to take it to the world.
This device, called a Simputer, will be launched formally on April 25 in
Bangalore. This gadget is not a PC. It is a simplified device more like a pocket computer.
What distinguishes it from other hand-held devices is its smart card reader. Besides, it
also has an Information Markup Language that is, amongst other thing, smart card aware.
It will also have the use of extensive audio in the form of text-to-speech and audio
snippets.

An important feature of the Simputer is the SmartCard Reader/Writer. The smart card is
emerging as a credible delivery vehicle for financial transactions on the Internet and has

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become an important tool for electronic commerce. The incorporation of a smart card
reader/writer in the Simputer will, therefore, increase the functionality of the mobile
device for deployment of a richer set of value-added services, including services such as
home banking through personal ATMs and home shopping.

A user's individual profile can be stored on a smart card, which he can carry
around with him. Once inserted into the smart card interface, the Simputer will read the
profile from the smart card and also update changes if any, during the current transaction
cycle.
AFFORDABLE COMPUTING

The projected cost of the Simputer is about Rs 9000 at large volumes.But


even this is beyond the means of most citizens. The Smart Card feature that the Simputer
provides enables the Simputer to be shared by a community.
A local community such as the village panchayat, the village school, a
kiosk, a village postman, or even a shopkeeper should be able to loan the device to
individuals for some length of time and then pass it on to others in the community.The
Simputer, through its Smart Card feature allows for personal information management at
the individual level for an unlimited number of users.
The impact of this feature coupled with the rich connectivity of the
Simputer can be dramatic. Applications in diverse sectors such as micro banking, large
data collection, agricultural information and as a school laboratory is now made possible
at an affordable price.
What makes the Simputer special?

One needs to understand the Simputer’s main features text-to-speech


synthesis in Indian languages, pen-based input (called tap-a-tap), portable palmtop-sized
footprint, Linux-powered, open hardware licensing, and the smart-card interface, among
others.
The intended use of these features (and hence the Simputer) is for rural
areas. The text-to-speech features, portable size and low power requirements are meant to
be of immense use to people in these areas. Some of the applications that have been
suggested are micro-banking applications, rural commerce, and micro-credit applications.

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Simputer has an edge over any palmtop. Palmtops can’t compute in Indian
languages and don’t have text-to-speech interfaces for Indian languages. They are also
not aimed for the mass market that the Simputer is targeting, and still have a more elitist
user community.
The business applications of Simputer in Micro-banking or sales force
automation is useful. Insurance companies in India are looking at using this for each of
their insurance agents who go around. Now, they don't have to carry all these huge books
that they used to carry, with details of all the policies. They just carry the Simputer with
all the information already fed into that.
The impact of this feature coupled with the rich connectivity of the
Simputer can be dramatic. Applications in diverse sectors such as micro banking, large
data collection, agricultural information and as a school laboratory is now made possible
at an affordable price.
It's not only that it costs less than $200 (Rs. 9,306) but also what the
Simputer will be able to do. Put together by several academics and engineers – in their
spare time -- this Internet device will have the potential to help even non-literate users to
surf the Net and e-mail.

Once commercialized and put out in the market -- its designs will be freely
released to companies for reproduction -- the Simputer can not only be used as a device
for individuals to access the Net, but also by communities Sthrough kiosks. A smart-card
interface is being worked on to facilitate micro banking.

The non-profit Simputer Trust, a group of academics and technologists


from India’s computing industry, is creating the multi-purpose device. Their vision is to
create not only a computer, but also an "evolving platform for social change" throughout
the world by bridging the digital divide. They wanted a device that could be used by
literate people in Third World nations who lack computer skills, as well as by illiterate
people. The Simputer Trust is created basically to develop technology that will help take
information technology to rural areas.
Its initial target is India. And if it is applicable in India, it will also be
applicable in the rest of the third world.

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The Simputer had a tremendous response from all over the world -from
South America to Australia and every other country in between, including some of the
developed countries. Even the developed countries are interested in seeing how they
could use it; not just for applications for the poor, but also applications for the urban elite,
the urban affluent.
The Simputer is the result of coming together of scientists form the Indian
Institute of Science, Bangalore and technologists of a software company with a broad
imperative to harness its potential for the benefit of all sections of society. The Simputer
is not a projection of an end product but of an evolving platform for social change.

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“The Simputer a cheap, pocket-sized computing
device designed for use by rural populations in India has been
hailed as a breakthrough in bringing the world of computing to
the poor”.

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SIMPUTER LICENSING

The system software of the Simputer, since it is Linux based


is under GPL. We have been working on a license similar to the GPL,
but applicable to hardware. We realized, after considerable
discussions, that hardware has a significant difference that precludes
the possibility of using a simple extension of the software GPL. We now
have the first draft of the Simputer General Public License (SGPL) that
we believe to be a practicable license which at the same time
facilitates the rapid spread of Simputers.
The SGPL has been reviewed further and the new version is now ready.
The Simputer General Public License

The hardware specifications of the Simputer can be


downloaded only under SGPL. The SGPL permits anyone to build
devices out of the downloaded specification. However, once a product
is ready for commercialization, one of two possible licenses needs to
be obtained from the Simputer Trust. These are
• The Simputer Device Manufacturing License.

The Simputer manufacturing License refers to a Core


Simputer Specification, a functional description of the Simputer to be
specified by the Simputer Trust and which evolves with the
development of the Simputer. The first version of the Core Simputer
Specification will be posted here soon.

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SIMPUTER SPECIFICATIONHARDWARE

CPU

Intel Strong Arm SA-1110 CPU

Memory

16–64 MB of SDRAM

08-32 MB Flash for non-volatile storage

Display Options

240x320 LCD Color or Monochrome Display Panel with backlight

Input Device

Touch-panel Overlay on LCD Display with a plastic stylus (Pen)

Direction and Selection Keys

Audio Interface

Audio Codec

Support for external head-set

Smart Card Interface

Smart Card Reader/Writer

USB Interface

USB Port

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Connectivity

Data Modem

IrDA Interface

Connectors in Basic Unit

Smart Card Connector


IrDA Transceiver
RJ-11 Telephone Jack
USB Type-A Connector
AC Adapter Input

Power Supply

2xAA-sized Ni-MH batteries


Internal charge management
Operates with external AC Adapter

ACCESSORIES
Expansion Docking Cradle

Compact Flash [CF-II] Slot, USB Slave and Serial Port

SYSTEM SOFTWARE

Operating System

Linux Kernel 2.4.18

Network Protocols

TCP/IP, FTP, Telnet, PPP, HTTP etc.

Application Libraries

GTK+, glibc

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APPLICATION SOFTWARE

Internet Access

Browser, Email, File-Transfer

Music

MP3 Player / MPEG4 Player

PIM Applications

Notepad, Address Book, Calculator

The new Simputer range from Encore thus attempts to meet the
requirements of various market segments. The entry-level Simputer will, at production
volumes, be priced at about $210, and has a monochrome LCD, 16MBof DRAM and
8MB of flash memory, IrDA and USB interfaces and audio connectors, but no modem.
Some of the enhancements include a built-in battery charger, a real-time clock, and
support for J2ME.
The top-end Simputer, priced at about $480, has a color display,32MB of
flash memory and 64MB of DRAM, a built-in modem, and a pocket-sized cradle with a
Compact Flash expansion slot for memory cards and wireless connectivity.In addition to
the cradle which ships with the high-end model, Encore is also designing specialized
cradles with built-in functions such as a micro printer, keyboard, and support for GSM
and 802.11 wireless connectivity. The company is opening up to designers the interface
between the Simputer and the cradle to encourage others to design their own specialty
cradles.

IMLI: The IML browser

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IMLI is an abbreviation for IML interface. The purpose of IMLI is to provide a simple and
consistent interface for displaying information and developing applications that are simple, user
friendly.

IMLI supports display of Indian languages, and is also integrated with a speech-synthesis system,
that is capable of synthesizing voice in Indian languages. The speech synthesis system is
distributed separately. It

uses a protocol called ITP, IML transport protocol. The novelty of the Information Markup
language (IML) browser(user-interface of the simputer) is:

 uniformity across diverse applications

 ease of use

 support for multilingual text and speech output

 support for smart card usage.

IML Syntax

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IML syntax is governed by the rules of XML syntax and its grammar is specified by a
Document Type Definition (DTD): the details of using tags, attributes, entity references

and so on are defined in the XML language specification and the details about IML
element, attribute names and their nesting etc. are specified in the IML DTD.

Tap-a-tap: cool character composition

Tap-a-tap is a method for generating keystrokes to be sent to other applications, for devices,
where a keyboard is absent. Tap-a-tap uses a3x3 grid for recognizing characters. For example,
each character of the

Kannada alphabet can be generated by "tapping" on the cells of the 3x3grid in a particular
sequence. The figure generated by connecting the "tapped" points, roughly resembles the way the
character is written.

Tap-a-tap starts of in "letter" mode; it can be changed to go into "number" mode by clicking on
the button at the bottom. This brings up the numeric telephone style keypad, for number entry.
Clicking again

on the button at the bottom, brings it back to the "letter" mode.

DHVANI: The Simputer Text-to-Speech Software

DHVANI gives resources needed to set up text-to-speech synthesis in Indian languages.


Using images in conjunction with voice output in local languages makes the Simputer
accessible to a larger fraction of the Indian population. Currently, Dhvani has a Phonetics
to-Speech engine which is capable of generating intelligible speech from a suitable
phonetic description in any Indian Language. In addition, it is capable of converting
UTF-8 text in Hindi or Kannada to this phonetic description, and then speaking it out
using the Phonetics-to-Speech engine.

Text entering

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There are two options on the simputer for entering text:

1. one is a soft keyboard, that can be brought up on the touch screen and you poke at it to enter
one character at a time.

2. The second option is to use a novel character entry software called tap-a-tap which is similar in
spirit to graffitti, but quite distinct. But to enter tons of text using the Simputer, you can attach a
USB keyboard. Simputer is not recommended as a mass data-entry device.

The above figure shows the text entering via first option i.e., touch screen.

The above figure shows the text entering via tap-a-tap.

Smart Card

The built-in smart card reader/writer of the Simputer is a critical feature that makes the Simputer
an ideal device for almost any kind of transaction. In addition, the smartcard is the mechanism
that allows a Simputer to be shared among a group of users.Rural communities could own several
simputers and hire these out for usage to individuals based on the ownership of a SmartCard. It
has a built-in chip. Each user's Smart Card would contain the minimum "personalization"

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information required to log into a Community Server(Simputer) which would maintain
personalized data about the user, which he can carry around with him. It can hold several hundred
letters like bank account information, personal information -driving licence, person’s identity,
picture and signature. Once inserted7into the smart card interface the simputer will read the
profile from the smart card and also update changes if any during the current transaction cycle.
User profiles can be stored in flash memory as accessible files and also in the smartcard. Sharing

would bring down the cost of the Simputer to that of owning only a simple smart card, and paying
for the usage of a shared Simputer. It is better viewed as a "personalization" and security device.

The Simputer internal design can be seen as above

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APPLICATIONS

The architecture of the Simputer integrates various devices such as Smart Card reader, a Modem,
a Touch Screen, a Multi-lingual Text to-Speech system. This makes Simputer an ideal device for:

e-governance

 Smart Card enabled citizen services( Voter IDs, driving license, ration card, etc. )

 Data collection and processing

 Land and revenue records

 Education, health care and information access

 e-mail device

Microbanking

 A Smart Card pass book

 Synchronizing transactional details through modem connectivity

 Interactive multi-lingual transaction log book

 Human error eliminated, increasing the integrity of the calculations.

29

Education

 Interactive text books

 Massive data storage at low costs compared to books

 Universal interface for education in any language at any level

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 Automatic adjustment of content based on progress.

 Entertaining and engrossing medium

 Regular download of new educational data without reliance on infrastructure or


additional expense

Communication

 Cheap communication devices..

 High performance communication technologies for the masses

 Data and text transmission, as well as voice

 Potential centralization of the communications network

 Simplifying usage through storage of preferences of each user on a Smart Card

 Simplifying communication by removing the barriers of language and literacy

 .Universality of data transmission achieved through use of icons and text-to-


speech

Market pricing and agriculture

 A friendly companion to know the current prices of his produce

 A trader looking for right market to sell or buy his goods

 An interactive assistant for a farmer to implement the best farming practices

 Both market and weather forecasting data instantaneously distributed

 Digitization of the barter system via organization of secure transactions using


smart cards

Health

 Interactive data collection device for a health worker

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 Simple education medium for healthy practices

 Preliminary diagnosis of common ailments via an expert system

 Health schedules, data storage, advice on livestock

 Communication barrier broken between health service workers and rural


patients

 Telemedicine : remote health care advice

Technology in everyday life

 Usage in restaurants to automatically report orders to the kitchen

 Digital Assistant and diary options for personal home use

 Portable entertainment on a versatile platform

 Distribution network organization; Simputers carried by delivery agents

 Inventory management made easy

 Integration with Global Positioning Systems for directions and way finding

 Global satellite digital broadcasts for educational and entertainment purposes

Interfaces

 Touch panel overlay on liquid-crystal display.

 Speaker and microphone jacks

 Smart-card connector.

 USB connector (to function as host or device)

 Serial port

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 Infrared Data Association (IrDA) port

 Grayscale /Super-twisted nematic display (STN)/Thin-film transistor (TFT)


(depends on model and manufacturer).

 Multi-I/O connector (in Encore's Simputer) giving additional (slave) USB,

and optional modem/VGA interfaces

FEATURES :

 It runs on a 32-bit 200MHz Strong Arm SA-1100 RISC Processor with32Mb


DRAM of RAM.Permanent Storage of 16MB Flash RAM. 320x240 monochrome
LCD display panel. Plastic stylus on a touch-panel overlay as input devices.Audio
codec& pre-amplifier for built-in headphones/microphone. Smart Card
reader/writer.

 The Simputer runs on the free-to-use Linux operating system software, making it
one of the few handhelds not to use Palm's software or a version of Microsoft
Corp's Windows.

 It can connect to the Internet through fixed-line or wireless networks, allowing


local governments and voluntary agencies to receive and transmit data such as
farm prices.

 It also has a speech synthesiser that can read English and Indian texts, making
computer use possible for more than one third of Indians who are illiterate.

Ease of use

Ease of use has to be an important guiding principle if this device is to gain a substantial
measure of popularity. A low-cost version of this device may be targeted to the home
user, whereas a slightly higher functionality version can be designed for use in cyber
kiosks where people can come in and surf at their convenience.The Simputer can also be
used in schools to allow them to offer Web access to students at relatively low-cost. It

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can also leverage the pervasiveness of telephone lines and enable users to enjoy a new
level of services from their net service providers.

This could be in areas as diverse as Web-enabled email access, home banking, home
shopping, educational services and new forms of entertainment.

Micheal L Best, research scientists at MIT's famous Media Lab, toldrediff.com some time
ago that his centre was working on developing a similar device which should cost $50
apiece.

So the Simputer is certainly not a unique project globally, although itis certainly new and
special to India.

Best felt that even that was too high a cost for the target user of such a device, which is
basically a poor, rural farmer.

Multiple Benefits :

"This provides us several benefits. We benefit from the experience of the


vast global pool of experts working on software problems. We also have access to the
entire source code, which enables us to deploy the software on any hardware platform
that might be cost-effective for us at a certain point in time. It will also have the benefit
of peer review processes that ensure a relatively robust and stable end product," says
Swami Manohar, an associate professor in the department of computer science and
automation of IISc, and one of the seven trustees.
The initial version of the Simputer is based on a Strong ARM CPU.The
Strong ARM is a Reduced Instruction-set microprocessor, which is designed for
embedded applications. Several vendors provide ARM based chips with a high level of
integration and high performance at a relatively low level of power consumption.
" The aim is to make Simputer a low cost alternative device to PCs, by
which IT can reach the common man,". "That's why it features touch screen and local
language software interface."

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Four trustees are from IISc and the remaining three from Encore.Vinay
Deshpande, the founder CEO and MD of Encore, is the managing trustee of the Simputer
Trust.

All that the trust is going to do on April 25 is to display about 10Simputers


and hold several demonstrations of them, at the JRD Tata Auditorium, National Institute f
for Advanced Studies, IISc, Bangalore. This is to indicate that the Simputer platform is
ready for the next stage, namely, commercial manufacture and deployment.
In other words, Simputers will not be available in your neigbour hood
computer store on April 26. Private companies will have to come forward to take the
licenses for manufacturing Simputers.
The trust has liberally borrowed its philosophy from the concept of" free
software" propounded by a worldwide group of software developers who have created a
new paradigm for the development and deployment of such popular software as Linux
and also benefited from pioneering work done by the Free Software Foundation.
The trust will still retain ownership over the basic platform so that it can continue to
guide its development based on the philosophy of the Trust.

"The system software of the Simputer, since it is Linux based is under GPL," say the
trustees.

"We have been working on a license similar to the GPL, but applicable to
hardware. We realized, after considerable discussions, that hardware has significant
differences that precludes the possibility of using a simple extension of the software
GPL."
"We now have the first draft of the Simputer General Public License that
we believe to be a practicable license which at the same time facilitates the rapid spread
of Simputers."
"We invite comments from interested manufacturers and others on the SGP,
which was drafted by Rahul Matthan, the legal counsel of the Simputer Trust."

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The trust estimates that it will then take a company at least three months to start
manufacturing these devices for general use.

SUCCESS INHIBITORS

By 2005, sales of Simputers failed to live up to the ambitious goal of selling 50,000 units:
only 4000 Simputers were sold .

Poor’s man computer

A reason often stated is that the poor have no need of computers before their basic
needs (such as electricity) are met. However, the Simputer was never designed to be a
"poor man's computer" (a position often used by the media)- it was a device designed to
help bridge the digital divide. While most people tended to look at the cost of the
Simputer as a factor, they ignored the fact that the "cost of ownership" for the end-user of
the device in villages was not the cost of the device, but the cost of the Smart card used to
store the user's data. The device itself should be considered shared infrastructure for the
village.
Lack of support from Government and NGO’s
Another reason may be that lack of purchasing by the Indian government and NGOs
(as earlier committed) led to lack of adoption in the field.

License Cost

The SGPL, the license under which simputer is marketed, asks for a license fee of
1 Million Indian Rupee to commercially exploit the Simputer design. This was perceived
to be a high entry point for small scale organizations wishing to license the Simputer
design.

Comparision with PDA’s

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While the Simputer is not cheap when compared to PDA’s available in the market
at the time, this point is largely irrelevant as it was designed not to be a PDA but as a
stand alone computer. The comparison with PDA’s was a natural outcome because of the
form-factor.

Cost of Laptops
The decrease of prices of Laptop computers may have reduced the Simputer’s
price competitiveness.

DEPLOYMENT
 Simputers were extensively used by the Government of Karnataka to
automate the process of land records by procurement.

 In 2005 they were used in variety of innovative and interesting


applications such as automobile engine diagnostics.

 Used for Electronic Money transfer between UK, Ghana and others

 Recently Simputers are deployed by police force to track traffic offenders


and issue traffic tickets.

 Used by Indian Military

Why Simputer? Why


not?

The global
launch of the Simputer is

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marked more by scepticism than hope and hype. Ironically, when the news about the
Simputer first broke a couple of years ago, it was heralded with much excitement. The
media hype raised hopes of development organisations that have been working to bring
the benefits of ICTs to disadvantaged communities.
But its failure to retain the interest of designers, manufacturers, the Indian
government and venture capitalists, coupled with repeated delays in its launch, has given
rise to scepticism about its marketability and sustainability.Recently even its utility for
the poor and non-literate people has been questioned and debated.
Let’s be clear about one point: the Simputer is not an answer to poverty,
diseases or illiteracy. On its own, it cannot feed the poor, it cannot eradicate diseases and
it cannot teach the non-literate. No technological invention can claim to be able to do
that. Nor is the Simputer the only solution to the digital divide

.Vast potential
But what the Simputer can potentially do is of tremendous value. Pilot
projects in Indian states of Karnataka and Chhattishgarh, which are applying it in micro
banking, distance education and rural information access, are showing promising results.
In Chhattishgarh, rural schools are using Simputers to receive information
via the WorldSpace radio and to learn from consultants across the world. Farmers in
Karnataka are using it to learn about the going crop rates; to get local market and
fertiliser news; and to send and receive email and voice mail.
Doctors in rural areas want to develop a portable ultrasound monitor that
can be plugged into the Simputer. Local government agencies can use it to extend their
services to the rural communities. Post offices can use it to service money orders
electronically, cutting delays and loss in transit. Local communities, such as village
councils, schools, kiosks, postmen or neighbour hood shops can loan the device to
individual users for different uses. Non-literate users can browse the Web using pictures
and its text-to-speech capability allows the Web content to be delivered in local
languages.
Even in developed nations, there are possible applications such as

VATHSALYA INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 28


computer access for the homeless and distance literacy programmes. Some even see its
potential in peace initiatives, if it is used in information gathering and delivery of services
to war victims and child soldiers. Indeed, the Simputer’s applications are limited only by
lack of imagination.

• Community building tool

Most important, the Simputer can help in community building and bridging
the social gap. Because the digital divide is not so much about the gap in access to
technologies as the social divide between haves and have-nots. Sharing a community
resource like the Simputer can multiply the effect of traditional open-air theatres or
festivities in countries like India, which foster a sense of community among the rural
people. This can get a further boost when its users also become part of the online
communities that can be created.
The significance of the Simputer is, however, more to do with its
philosophy than its features. Its designers have proved that developing nations can build
their own solutions to their problems and need not accept generously doled out pre-
fabricated, proprietary and expensive technologies.
The good news is, other developing countries are also now designing
similar low-cost solutions. In Laos, a team is designing Jhai PC, a rugged, pedal-powered
computing system for village telephony and Internet access. There have been reports
about a PDA similar to the Simputer being developed in Sri Lanka that will cost about
$50. In Kenya, a fishing community is currently testing the Village PDA, an African
counterpart of the Simputer.
• Design for the community

The design of the Simputer, as much as in the case of other alternative


devices, is demand-driven, based on the expressed needs of the communities which they
are meant for. The fact that designers have taken into consideration the actual information
needs, language capacities and potential interface preferences of low-literate rural
villagers, seems to be a step in the right direction.
Unlike proprietary software and hardware, the Simputer gives freedom of
choice to its users as well as to the civil society organisations and software and hardware

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developers. As a user you are free to adapt it any way you want for your needs. Designers
are free to further develop its hardware and software. And NGOs working among
communities can adapt it to their communities’ needs.
It is this desire of the Simputer people to encourage the creation of
intellectual property in IT among the Southern people and organisations that seems to
have upset the multinational IT giants and western academics. For obvious reasons, it is a
threat to the monopolistic manufacturers who loathe that they cannot control or own the
profits earned from the technology and fear that its sharability will cut into their market.
Another reason manufacturers haven’t shown enthusiasm for the Simputer
could be that they are expected to turn in their extensions to the Simputer design back to
the community of developers and designers, which goes against their perception of
market ownership and leadership.
• Unjustified fears

In fact, the Simputer’s unique sharabiltiy and portability have been


criticized on the basis of fears that this will make it a focal point for theft in the poor
communities. But such fears are not only baseless, they’re an insult to the poor as they
imply that the villagers cannot be trusted with the Simputers. In Bangladesh, the
Grameen Bank has increased economic opportunities for many poor villagers by
distributing mobile phones to women who rent them out to fellow villagers. The mobile
phones are just as portable and also valuable, yet the programme remains successful.
There have been no reports of theft occurring in similar projects elsewhere in developing
countries.
People will protect items they value and make sure they are used
responsibly, so the dissemination of the Simputers ideally should be in conjunction with
well-planned programmes to get them in the hands of people who need them and will
take a community leadership role in possessing them.
Community sharing, as conceptualized in the Simputer, is a completely
foreign concept to the Western culture, which thrives on consumerism that promotes
individual ownership of resources. Is it the reason why even the academics of the
developed country are sceptical of the Simputer’s potential?

VATHSALYA INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 30


Obviously, it is too early to measure the impact of the Simputer, but its
development could well be a watershed in the underdeveloped countries’ efforts to
overcome the digital divide. Low-cost devices such as the Simputer, Jhai PC and the
Village PDA have a special role in speeding up development in the Third World. But
what is crucial at this point is their sustainability and it is their useful applications rather
than cost alone that will drive their demand and determine their success.

CONCLUSION

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Simputer is a low-cost multilingual, mass access handheld device
that uses Indian language user interfaces to provide information technology based
services to the multilingual population of India.

 Portable and a mobile device

 Sharable and affordable

 Integrated Smart Card and Modem

 Multi-lingual text-to-speech system

 IMLI makes knowledge of English no longer a barrier to the use of IT

 Images allow universal comprehension of IML content

 Relies on non-proprietary software

The Simputer platform technology, being a cost effective platform can be used to develop
several other products such as thin clients, cost effective e-commerce device and in
embedded systems.

VATHSALYA INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 32


FUTURE WORKS

The Simputer which is a simple computer, has many advantages where a


common man can easily use.

The goal of the Simputer project is to harness the potential of Information and
Communication Technology (ICT) for the benefit of the weakest sections of society.

Future enhancements are also possible and they are

 Mobility(GSM, Bluetooth/802.11B, GPS)

 FM radio

 Voice recognition software

 Camera

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

 www.simputer.org

 www.ncoretech.com/simputer/

 www.learningchannels.org

 www.express-computer.com

 www.wired.com/news/technologies

 www.anchila.8k.com/Aboutsimp.html

 www.windows.idg.net/english/crd_internet_192403.html

 www.geek.com/news/geeknews/2002jul/gee20020708015274.hml

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