Technology For Society

Focus on technology trends that create an impact on larger part of Society.

Indic input standards development for smart touch phones

Though, the Indic language support in basic phones existed from 2005, their usage is close to nil, due to lack of awareness, difficulties of entering Indic text and printing of Hindi characters on keypads meant for  non -Hindi areas.  For  Indic use in SMS, there were  no  standards for  encoding Indic text with GSM/CDMA technology.
Attendees(LtoR): Naveen, Nirmitha, Arjun,Mahesh,Nadeem, Sunil and Vijay

IEEE-Standards Association has setup a  India Special Interest Group  with the objective of  spearheading the initiative to improve the contribution from Indian engineers in Standards development. As part of its software and IT sub group, a meeting was organised at Centre for Internet and Society(CIS), Bangalore  to  understand  the status of Indic on mobiles and brainstorm next steps on 24 Feb 2011.

Dr Nadeem from CEWIT, Vijay from Nokia, Dr Mahesh and Naveen J from Brahmi computing,Sunil Abraham and Nirmita Narasimhan, Sri Chandra and myself as volunteers of IEEE-SA attended the meeting. Sri Chandra briefed the participants about the IEEE-SA initiative.

Dr Nadeem presented work done as part of the broadband consortium during the last year towards input, storage, rendering of indic text. The scope included only the basic phones with 12 key keypad and simple input methods without reliance on word dictionaries. The team came up with an intutive input method in the usual alphabetic order of script and switching in of additional layers to speed up data entry to access frequently occurring letters. He also gave away hardcopies of the recommendation to the attendees. He said that he plans to share the recommendation in a larger forum and encourage the vendors to adopt the standard.

After extensive brainstorming on indic input methods status,  it is agreed that touch phones will become the key for extensive use of Indic languages. As touch phones become affordable at price points of less than 5000 Rupees, developing a input standard for them can help in speeding up deployment. The touch phone also does not have limitation on number of keys, so even simple methods can be easy to use. The firmware changes for phones already with public can also be done easily. Sunil from CIS offered to help  promote from policy angle by working with Government apart from hosting future events at CIS.

IEEE-SA as an established leader in standards development, can help the industry through a time tested standard development process, which can protect IP of participants and also help in faster development of standard. The team felt that we are at right point in time to work on the standard and help enable mobile services for Indians in their own languages.


Arjun October 31, 2011 at 8:47:00 AM PDT  

Update: Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 android smartphone is supporting most common indic languages except Oriya. This could be a sample test device for testing the virtual keypads.

Arjun November 1, 2011 at 11:12:00 PM PDT  

CEWIT's study report is available

Arjun December 12, 2011 at 7:41:00 AM PST  

IEEE-SA standard development page for more details on the P1908.1 Virtual keyboard standard for indic languages.

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