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Last Updated: Friday, 14 October 2005, 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK
India's new pioneers: IT innovator
Shekhar Borgaonkar
Shekhar Borgaonkar demonstrates his gesture keypad
As part of BBC's India Week, the BBC News website spoke to four people who are pushing the boundaries with their chosen careers.

Shekhar Borgaonkar, who works for an multinational computer company in Bangalore, has invented a device which could bring computer use to millions throughout India.

I know about technological progress. When I did my PhD in 1980, it was a very different world of big mainframe computers.

A simple input device is the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle

But in the 21st Century if an Indian farmer wants to browse the internet, it is not possible. Language is a major barrier.

My week is generally spent thinking up ways to improve access to Information Technology for people in the developing world.

Problems which have some kind of human relevance appeal to me. I invented an affordable shopkeeper's computer recently, which is now quite widely in use.

Now, I'm about to launch the "gesture keypad".

Only about 10% of the Indian population know English. This means there is no IT interface for the remaining 90% to interact with.

Microsoft is coming up with Indian language versions of its operating systems. Google is coming up with Hindi Google.

But Hindi keyboards are very cumbersome. The Hindi keyboard uses at least 500-odd letters, which you get through using the "shift" and "alt" buttons.

A simple input device is the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle.

IT democracy

Gesture keypad
The "gesture keypad" will make it easier for Hindi speakers to use IT
My "gesture keypad" is not about typing. It's a pen-based device and will enable people to browse and fill out forms, for example.

It's opening up the internet to everybody.

With this device, a gesture on a mouse will not only identify the character you are trying to write, but allows accents and modifiers.

I think this will benefit India because many people will be able to interact with computers for the first time in their life.

Today, India is the world's software workhorse. The bulk of the world's software is produced in India by Indians.

We have the talent, for example, the designer of Pentium processor was Indian.

But in terms of market share, our contribution is very small. We don't own companies so we don't take home the profit.

None of the entrepreneurship and management of companies is held by Indians. In that sense, we have not made enough progress.


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