India Sci-Tech
Simputer project open sources its software
Mar 11, 2007 - 4:21:26 PM

Bangalore, March 11 - The Simputer project, struggling against odds, has open sourced one of its prominent software - in a move which could see many more techies playing around with the self-contained 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 License.

'Several people have started actively working on it, including some well-known names outside India,' announced 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 underway though to build on the project.

By 'open sourcing' the code, it would mean that 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 initiatives that worked on building different versions of the Simputer.

PicoPeta - merged with Geodesic, that is providing funds and other support the project previously fell short of.

Encore, the other Simputer licensee, is now focussed on another device called the 'anywhere computing tool' Mobilis. It had earlier announced what it called 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 up on by many other contributors. Alchemy's stress is on providing users of mobile devices, natural interfaces including handwriting, direct manipulation and gesture inputs.

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