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India's subidised student tablet lands in US schools

Tablet for impoverished Indian kids now helping disadvantaged American kids

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The cut price Indian tablet known as Aakash is now being touted around US schools as the British company which made it looks to save a project beset by controversy and delays.

The low cost tablet from Datawind, a UK-based firm founded in Montreal by Suneet and Raja Tuli, was originally intended for the Indian market as part of a government project to put computing device in the hands of tens of millions of students.

However it now appears to have found a home in the world’s largest economy.

Pilots in areas including San Francisco and North Carolina’s Wake County have led to the deployment of 2,000 of the devices so far in order to help disadvantaged kids with their studies, according to Livemint.

The Wake County project, organised by not-for-profit Communities in Schools (CIS), has apparently seen 100 Aakash 2 tablets – or rather their commercial equivalent, the UbiSlate 7Ci – deployed at $45 each.

Datawind’s Tuli is now boldly predicting a future commercial launch in the US could lead to a million units shipped in the first year alone.

However, the firm has been this optimistic in the past only to see the project stalled by technical and administrative problems.

The low-specced first version of Aakash, launched in October 2011, was widely criticised on launch.

Things got worse when a falling out with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Jodhpur and IIT Rajasthan – organisations in charge of the roll-out regionally – ended up delaying shipments.

The project got back on its feet with the launch of an improved Aakash 2 last year but continued production problems and government delays have persisted.

The latest attempt to get the initiative back up and running will tentatively see a fourth generation Aakash tablet launched in January 2014.

The Union government announced technical specs back in July although at the time it said it hadn’t yet decided which firm would be chosen to build it. ®

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