India plans to bridge digital divide with simputers

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A scheme to take the IT revolution to the rural masses in India has been unveiled. The Indian Institute of Science and Bangalore-based Encore Software have announced that a new, low-cost personal computer will be available this autumn.

Simputers, or Simple Computers, are intended as community-access devices that will be placed in local schools and shops. The machines will have internal modems and a host of free software provided by the Global Open Source initiative. Touch screen technology and text-to-speech software will mean that the majority of people will be able to use them readily.

Vinay Deshpande from Encore Software, believes that the built-in smart card interface will be the cornerstone of the scheme’s success.

“The smartcard interface will bring the revolutionary changes,” Deshpande told The Times of India Online.

Deshpande predicts that microbanking will be the killer application, offering many people the convenience of depositing and withdrawing money electronically for the first time.

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