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Low-cost Aakash tablet scheme is back on track

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A new version of the ultra low-cost Aakash tablet built by British firm DataWind has been announced by the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B), with deliveries to over 100,000 students and teachers nationwide expected from July.

The institute took over the project – designed to empower students and teachers in the country’s engineering colleges – three months ago from IIT-Jodhpur, after a deteriorating relationship with DataWind stalled shipments.

Now it has commissioned the Aakash 2, which upgrades the processor from 366 Mhz to 800 Mhz, and replaces the resistive touch screen to a capacitive screen.

It also features improved battery power, up from less than two hours to around three hours, and has a slightly lower price tag of Rs. 2,263 (£25.48), down from 2,276 (£25.63 ), according to IIT-B.

The devices will be used to facilitate an ambitious remote teacher training programme which aims to engage 1,000 trainee teachers at a time. IIT-B is also developing open source applications for use with the tablets with a special focus on content in India languages, the institute said.

The devices are already set-up to facilitate interactive video lectures, online tests and the submission of assignments and can also be used by computer students to write and run programs in C, C++ and Python.

DB Phatak, head of the project at the IIT-B’s Computer Science Engineering department, said the following in a canned statement:

With the increasing convergence of communication and computing technologies, tablet computers are fast emerging as popular consumer devices. In coming years, Aakash is likely to become a ubiquitous tool in the hands of students, at all levels of their education.

We received first 100 samples of the Aakash-2 device during May/June. Our goal is to complete the deployment at over 500 engineering colleges, and to build a large community of thousands of talented professional students and teachers from these colleges, to carry out large scale development of applications and content for use in all schools and colleges.

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