Hyderabad: An upgraded version of Aakash-- Aakash 2, the low cost tablet billed as the cheapest computer in the world for students and the teaching community, is set to be launched "very soon", HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said Sunday.
The improved version is fitted with a faster processor and enhanced battery life among other features.
"It (the idea of low cost computer) was rejected throughout the world and it was said that India would not be able to make it. Our HRD ministry was committed to the Aakash project and ultimately we came out with the first version of the Aakash which costs Rs 2,276.
"Now, Aakash 2 has been rolled out with battery life of three hours, 800MHz processor, providing internet access everywhere and it has a capacitive screen. The process to distribute this device has begun and it would be formally launched very soon," Sibal said here.
He was addressing the first convocation of the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) at its Hyderabad campus.
The new improved version of Aakash had been inaugurated by Sibal at IIT-Bombay in June.
"That was the dream and I as minister for Human Resource Development, asked myself the question can I provide a tablet to the students throughout the country that costs a reasonable amount so that all children can afford it and yet is able to deliver through the best technology, the vast information available on the net to them sitting wherever they are," he said.
Sibal had announced in June that 100,000 upgraded Akash-2 tablets will be given to engineering colleges, for which deliveries were expected to begin in July.
"We have realised a dream that was germinated a few years ago. We have been able to tell the world that through our frugal innovation system we can conquer the world and that's exactly what we need to do for India as a country," the minister said.
Soon after its launch in October 2011, Aakash faced many a hiccup. Following this, IIT-Bombay was handed over the responsibility of the first phase of the project.
The all-new Aakash tablet had symbolically been handed over to the principals of VJTI College, Somaiya College, PIIT Panvel and COEP Pune by Sibal in June at the IIT-Bombay workshop.
Stressing the need for frugal innovation, Sibal said even the R&D and technical centres of Fortune 500 companies in India are adopting the technique to reach wider markets.
"These companies have succeeded only because they have challenged conventional thinking and techniques. Already a growing number of universities abroad, including those in US and UK and elsewhere are taking the frugal innovation message seriously and initiating programmes for it," the minister said.
Leading industrialist and BITS Chancellor Kumar Mangalam Birla said that it was now the turn of students to make the universe "safer and better" over the next few decades.
"You are surrounded today by unimaginable opportunities. When I talk about opportunities it is not just about making money or a name for oneself. You should see opportunity to make a difference to the universe that we live in," he said.
As many as 413 students were awarded with degrees that included 344 under-graduates and 69 post-graduates from various streams of engineering and science.
First Published: Sunday, August 12, 2012, 19:22