India Business
Efforts to make Simputer simpler
Mar 11, 2007 - 8:31:02 AM

Bangalore, March 11 - Struggling against odds, the Simputer project has open-sourced one of its prominent software in a move which could see many more techies playing around with the handheld computer project and contributing to it.

Alchemy - the user interface used on the Amida Simputer - has been open-sourced, and the code has been released under the General Public Licence.

'Several people have started actively working on it, including some well-known names outside India,' says Atul Chitnis, senior vice-president of product technology and strategy of Geodesic Information Systems Ltd.

The Simputer is a self-contained, sharable and handheld computer, designed for situations where personal computers were inapt. Due to the low cost and the attempt to make it sharable, it was also seen as useful to bring computing power to the 'developing' countries.

Born in Bangalore, the Simputer project evoked a huge interest across the globe in recent years, though the project failed to make the impact it was expected to earlier. Efforts are still under way to build on the project.

Open sourcing would mean the software would be made available to the general public with either relaxed or non-existent intellectual property restrictions.

Open sourcing of software projects is seen as beneficial as it enables users to build or improve user-generated software through incremental individual effort or collaboration.

Explained Chitnis: 'Every time I have shown the Simputer to people abroad, the first thing people have commented on was the interface, and have asked if it was possible to make the code available.'

Said he: 'There is a lot of work to be done, and if you ever wanted to get involved with a FOSS - project, this would be a good way to start. And since the port going on is to the OpenEmbedded platform, you would actually be involved with both projects.' is part of the Amida Simputer project - one of the two efforts hived off to attempt to build the Simputer. The second is the PicopPeta.

Amida is linked to the Encore group, which was recently taken over by the Mumbai-Bangalore-based Geodesic. Encore's products include the Simputer, the 'anywhere computing tool' Mobilis, and the 'world's first integrated battle computer' SATHI -.

Amida Alchemy - is optimised for mobile computing devices. It was conceived in 2003 and was unveiled as part of the retail launch of the Amida Simputer in 2004 by PicoPeta Simputers.

Alchemy was created after an evaluation of the then - available UI - layers, window managers and APIs for GNU/Linux -, which were not very suitable.

Amida Alchemy was conceptualised by V. Vinay and built on by many other contributors.

Alchmey stresses on providing users of mobile devices natural interfaces including handwriting, direct manipulation and gesture inputs.

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