The prototype was unveiled Thursday by India's Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, who noted that the device was developed at India's best IT universities. The touch-screen tablet is aimed at students and supports web browsing, video conferencing and word processing. With no electrical power connection, the tablet is powered by solar energy. Storage is via a memory card. The device would utilize the Linux operating system.
"This is our answer to MIT's $100 computer," said Sibal, according to media reports from Mumbai. The One Laptop Per Child program, developed by former MIT Media Lab official Nicholas Negroponte, originally had a goal of producing a $100 computer, but couldn't initially meet that goal. The program recently re-launched the $100 effort.
An earlier project by the Indian government announced last year to make a $20 laptop has languished and disappeared.
The tablet was developed primarily at the elite Indian Institute of Technology and the Indian Institute of Science. According to media sources, at least one Taiwanese company as well as some unnamed international manufacturers have shown interest in the tablet.
The market in India would be enormous - the country has 25,000 colleges and 500 universities; the tablet prototype has been designed to appeal to those student bodies.