NEW DELHI - In an effort to bring the Internet to the masses in India and other developing countries, several academics and engineers have used their spare time to design a sub-$200 handheld Net appliance, writes Bangalore-based John Ribeiro of IDG News Service (23 June).
The Simputer, or SIMple ComPUTER, will enable India\'s illiterate population (some 48% of the country of one billion) to surf the Web. The device was designed by professors and students at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) at Bangalore, and engineers from the Bangalore-based design company Encore Software. A prototype of the appliance will be available in August.
The Simputer is built around Intel\'s StrongARM CPU, with Linux as the operating system. It will have 16 MB of flash memory, a monochrome liquid crystal display (LCD) with a touch panel overlay for pen-based computing, and a local-language interface. The appliance will have Infrared Data Association and Universal Serial Bus interfaces, and will feature Internet access and mail software. Its designers expect the Simputer to be used not only as a personal Internet access device, but also by communities of users at kiosks. A smart-card interface to the device will enable the use of the device for applications such as micro-banking. "We expect to change the model for the proliferation of information technology in India," says Professor Swami Manohar. "The current PC-centric model is not sustainable because of the high cost of the PC."