Bharat Electronics Ltd. Develops Tablet PC for Poverty SurveyBy
The ultra cheap $35 tablet named Sakshat made a sensation of sorts when it was unveiled last year. Unfortunately, the sensation never got translated into a market launch and the Sakshat is still very much in the limbo. However, and almost unnoticed, another tablet PC arrived in the cheap segment. It has not only attained its final shape, but has also entered service, albeit in restricted numbers.
However, almost nothing is known about the tablet as yet, except that it runs Android 2.2 Froyo. Each unit of the tablet would cost Rs. 3000, which comes to about $70 (interestingly twice that of the Sakshat’s intended price). The tablet comes with solar re-chargeable cells making it ideal for use in far flung rural areas where electricity may not be available at all times and has also been designed to store and upload the data to a central server in real time.
The tablet is not for the mass market, however. Instead, it has been built to aid in the poverty survey undertaken by the Ministry of Rural Development. Towards this, around 2000 of the tablet PCs has already been delivered which would see action in the North-Eastern parts of India. Also, the tablet has been designed and developed by Bharat Electronics Ltd., a state owned company that caters mainly to the defense segment.
“Although it is not a prime product for the Defence electronics behemoth, it will supply six lakh pieces this year, most of them expected to be delivered in record time by end-November,” said BEL’s CMD, Ashwani Kumar Datt.
The company has been able to develop the tablet in a record time of just 4.5 months and plans to add a billion ruppees to its coffers via the entire contract for 6 lakh tablet PCs and by conducting the survey of the people below poverty line.
Interestingly, Ministry of Human Resource Development has also shown interest in the tablet for delivery to students which might be an indication of things not going well for the Sakshat.
“Having done this, we would try to continue having some business out of this. It was a very big challenge, of doing something extremely good, designing it in 4.5 months and at a low price. The tablet competes well with anything in the world market. However, it is something where we will always have to worry about customising and keeping the cost,” further added Datt.