Packed with improved features, Aakash 2 - the new version of the original low-cost tablet
Aakash, which was trashed by users last year - was launched by President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday the occasion of National Education Day.
Aakash 2.0 is powered by a processor that runs three times faster
than the original, has a seven inch capacitative touchscreen and a battery that should normally run for three hours. The device, which also runs on Linux operating system, does Aadhar authentication and controls a robot from a distant place.
But unlike the hype and tall claims surrounding its debut in October last year, the event on Sunday didn't make any proud references to Aakash being the world's cheapest computer tablet at a revised price of Rs 2,263 per unit.
Learning from its past mistakes and under the leadership of a new minister, the HRD ministry is clearly taking it slow.
For starters, the Aakash 2.0 will not go to the students immediately. For now, it's being used to train 15,000 teachers of 250 engineering institutes across the country. The government hopes to train about 1.5 lakh teachers with the help of Aakash through a mix of e-learning and contact sessions.
"Aakash can prove to be an excellent educational tool and can be made even more versatile. IIT Bombay is actively helping us out in developing electronic content for the computer tablet," said HRD minister M.M. Pallam Raju right after the launch, which was simultaneously beamed to 15,000 teachers across the country via Aakash 2.0.
The tablet's first pilot run was hit by several problems and the initial feedback had revealed a few drawbacks in the device such as slow speed and poor battery life.
The supply then came to a halt as the manufacturer Datawind and IIT Rajasthan
, which was appointed by the ministry to handle the awarding of contract and subsequent supplies, were embroiled in a bitter dispute over testing criteria of the computer tablet.
The embarrassment caused by the delay led to the expulsion of IIT Rajasthan from the project and IIT Bombay was appointed in its place.
"About 100 IIT Bombay students and 150 fulltime faculty members have been working on the new version. We had eight teams of students that helped port eight applications to the new tablet," said professor Deepak B. Phatak, Subrao Nilekani Chair professor at IIT Bombay, and one of the main coordinators of the Aakash project.
The advanced version was sent to the Union ministers and the state chief ministers for their feedback and their response has been good, according to ministry officials.According to Datawind
, about 20,000 units of the tablet will be delivered by this week and the total lot of one lakh units by the end of this year.In association with Mail Today