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                                           1. INTRODUCTION

TheSi mputer is a self-contained, open hardware handheld computer, designed for use inenvironments

where computing devices such as personal computers are deemed inappropriate.PicoPeta Simputers Pvt Ltd

unveils Amida Simputer for the retail market
                                           Fig. 1 Simputers

It's simple, it's portable. At about Rs 9,000 per piece, it's highly affordable. It is compatible withyour

everyday PC, helps you check e-mail, browse the Net, keep accounts, and get information.When the

invention of the Simputer (Simple Computer) was announced in 2001, it instantlycaptured the imagination

of the world. The venerable New York Times called it the mostimportant invention of 2001 ahead of

Apples G4 and Microsofts Windows XP operating system.Here was a computer that was rewriting every

rule associated with computers. The goal of theSimputer project is to harness the potential of Information

and Communication Technology (ICT)for the benefit of the weakest sections of society. Thes oft

ware developed by the Simputer Trustwill be under GNU GPL and thehardware developed will be under

Simputer General PublicLicense (SGPL). The Simputer is a low cost portable alternative to PCs, by which

the benefits ofIT can reach the common man. It has a special role in the third world because it ensures

thatilliteracy is no longer a barrier to handling a computer. The key to bridging the digital divide is tohave

shared devices that permit truly simple and natural user interfaces based on sight, touch andaudio. The

Simputer meets these demands through a browser for the Information MarkupLanguage (IML). IML has

been created to provide a uniform experience to users and to allowrapid development of solutions on any


“The Simputer a cheap, pocket-sized computing device designed for use by ruralpopulations in India

has been hailed as a breakthrough in bringing the world of computingto the poor”
                                2. JUST WHAT IS A SIMPUTER?
       What exactly is the Simputer? Put quite simply, it is more complex and powerful than a
                                             palm top.

For example, in terms of screen size (320x240), memory capabilities (32MB RAM) and the

OS(GNU/Linux). It runs on an Intel strong-arm chip. The chip is known for its low powerconsumption.

The Simputer runs on three AAA batteries or off the mains. It can also userechargeable batteries, but the

charger is not built in. Thus, the Simputer is basically a low-costcomputer with multiple connectivity

options. It will be modular and based entirely on freesoftware from the Open Source Initiative. Its primary

input will be a touch-sensitive overlay onthe LCD display panel. The primary application interface would

be a browser that can render theInformation Markup Language. IML is a new XML application being

designed specifically forhandheld devices like the Simputer. The use of XML-based language is in line

with thephilosophy of utilizing global Internet standards. To the rural Indian poor, and even to most

citydwellers, a computer is probably as remote an option as a trip to the moon. But things are aboutto

                                   2.1 The Brains Behind The Concept

A small group of scientists of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and some

engineeringprofessionals from the firm Encore Software have designed this simple device, and set up a

trustto take it to the world.
              This device, called a Simputer, will be launched formally on April 25 in Bangalore.

This gadget is not a PC. It is a simplified device more like a pocket computer. What distinguishesit from

other hand-held devices is its smart card reader. Besides, it also has an InformationMarkup Language that

is, amongst other thing, smart card aware. It will also have the use ofextensive audio in the form of text-to-

speech and audio snippets.

An important feature of the Simputer is the SmartCard Reader/Writer. The smart card isemerging as a

credible delivery vehicle for financial transactions on the Internet and has becomean important tool for

electronic commerce. The incorporation of a smart card reader/writer in theSimputer will, therefore,

increase the functionality of the mobile device for deployment of aricher set of value-added services,

including services such as home banking through personalATMs and home shopping.
A user's individual profile can be stored on a smart card, which he can carry around with him.Once inserted

into the smart card interface, the Simputer will read the profile from the smart cardand also update changes

if any, during the current transaction cycle.
                                         2.2 Affordable Computing

The projected cost of the Simputer is about Rs 9000 at large volumes. But even this is beyond themeans of

most citizens. The Smart Card feature that the Simputer provides enables the Simputerto be shared by a


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 andthen pass it on to

others in the community. The Simputer, through its Smart Card feature allowsfor 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, agriculturalinformation and as a school

laboratory is now made possible at an affordable price
                                                3. HISTORY

The Simputer project was conceived during the organization of the Global Village, anInternational Seminar

on Information Technology for Developing Countries, conducted duringBangalore event in October

                                           Fig 2. Simputer Layout

A discussion paper highlights the need for a low-cost mass access device that will bring local-language IT

to the masses. The initial concept paper ( PDF version) expanding on the initialdiscussions introduced the

term Simputer as an obvious twist on the word Computer. For thepurpose of establishing originality, a

slightly more complex acronym was invented to fit thename Simputer: Simple, Inexpensive, Multi-lingual

computer. And finally in order to appeal tocomputer geeks, ridiculously complex recursive acronym was

also coined: Simputer: SIMPlECOMPUTER, which expands to Simple, In-expensive Multi-lingual

PeopLE's compUTER. Theconcept paper outlines the technical requirements of the Simputer as well as the

applications.However, this paper is quite dated, and useful only as a historic reference.

The writing of the Bangalore Declaration on Information technology for developing countriesclarified and

fortified the concept of the Simputer and its role in the larger picture. A few items inthe Declaration,

specifically highlight the role for a Simputer-like device.
1. Introduction
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