Bridging the Great Digital Divide
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 illiteracy is no longer a barrier to handling a computer.
The key to bridging the digital divide is to have shared devices that permit truly simple and natural user interfaces based on sight, touch and audio.
The Simputer meets these demands through a browser for the Information Markup Language (IML). IML has been created to provide a uniform experience to users and to allow rapid development of solutions on any platform.
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.
The Simputer Trust
The Simputer Trust is the coming together of academics and technologists from industry with a broad imperative of harnessing the potential of the Simputer for the benefit of all sections of society. The vision of this non-profit trust is to promote the Simputer, not as an end product but as an evolving platform for social change.
The Trust comprises a unique combination of individuals with a diverse skills from Computer Science and Automation at the Indian Institute of Science (Bangalore) and from Encore Software Ltd (Bangalore).
The Trustees are Vijay Chandru (IISc), Vinay Deshpande (Managing Trustee, Encore), Shashank Garg (Encore), Ramesh Hariharan (IISc), Swami Manohar (IISc), Mark Mathias (Encore), and V Vinay (IISc). Rahul Matthan (Trilegal) is the legal counsel for the Simputer Trust and has played a key role in definining the Simputer General Purpose License.
The Proliferation of Simputers: Making it happen
A rapid growth of knowledge can only happen in an environment which admits free exchange of thought and information. Indeed, nothing else can explain the astounding progress of Science in the last three hundred years. Technology has unfortunately not seen this freedom too often. Several rounds of intense discussions among the trustees convinced them that the only way to break out of the current absurdities is to foster a spirit of cooperation in inventing new technologies. The common mistake of treating cooperation as a synonym of charity poses its own challenges. The Simputer Licensing framework is the Trust's response to these challenges.