At the ICALT 2012 conference where I gave a keynote talk, I had the pleasure of meeting Professor Kannan Moudgalya who is a Professor at the famous IIT in Bombay. He showed me an incredible device, it is a fully featured Android designed for India which only costs $40. This is a brilliant example of the power of reverse innovation. Whereas in the developed world we may become too blinded and comfortable to make very low cost quality products, in the developing world, through pressing needs, engineers and designers can create innovative solutions which optimize and make new powerful yet cheap devices. Another good example in India of such reverse innovation is the the Tato Nano car.
The device is called Aakash, and not only is it an incredibly cheap tablet, it is packed with open source software making this very useful for the youth in India to learn. What impressed me is that the team in IIT is working on apps which are going to be really useful for kids to use to learn and create. Some of the software includes an open source version of Matlab called SciLab, Python, C, and C++ compilers. I saw a real demo done by Professor Moudgalya where he compiled a C program on the fly. That is neat! You can imagine teenagers in India programming on these tables and learning to become super creative. The device also came with software for real time teaching, viewing of lectures remotely, and spoken tutorials. Of course it is Android so all the standard Android apps can be installed also.
The real value of this tablet is not only that the kid’s can have a fully featured Android tablet for $40, but that it also comes with software which allows them to really tinker and learn through doing. I am sure this device is not only revolutionary for Indian kids, but for the whole world.
Prof Moudgalya with the AAKASH at ICALT in Rome
A close up of the AAKASH