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‘Made in India' for the world

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‘Adam', the touch screen tablet fully developed at Hyderabad, is going places soon..

Adam (at left) and the action at the heart of the device.
Adam (at left) and the action at the heart of the device.

It can run for 25 days if one wants to listen to just music. It can run eight hours of high-definition video or 16 hours of Wi-Fi Web use.

K.V. Kurmanath

When Jensen, Chief Executive Officer of NVIDIA, launches ‘Adam', a touch screen tablet at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show in January 2010, it is going to be a very big day for India. For, he will be launching a high-tech IT product that was completely developed in India, marking the country's big entry into product development.

It is going to be a very big day for the six IITians and an MBA too, as they were the brains behind the new-generation Adam. Teamed up about a year ago to form Notion Ink, the seven-some are now busy preparing for the launch of their dream product at the Las Vegas show.

And it will be an equally big day for Hyderabad, where Adam was actually born. The team members were from different parts of north India, but they zeroed in on Hyderabad as it offered them the best of infrastructure and human resources — at no cost.

With NVIDIA's Tegra system-on-chip at its heart, Adam is a device the new generation technology user dreams of. Its battery can work for days. It will have only a screen and no physical key board. One can manoeuvre the cursor using the finger commands from the front or at the back. It will have a camera that can rotate to take pictures and videos, or for video chat. It can talk to other smart devices, including phones.

For those with an eye for technical details, the 6.3 by 9.8-inch device works on Google's Android and Mary Lou's Pixel Qi that offers a paper display, putting no pressure on the eyes. With 1024X600 wide SVGA colour resolution, the screen contains finger-print-resistant oleophobic coating. With a capacity of up to 32 GB flash drive, it would have SD card support, a digital compass, GPS and Wi-Fi.

It can run for 25 days if one wants to listen to just music. It can run eight hours of high-definition video or 16 hours of Wi-Fi Web use, Rohan Shravan, founder and Director, Creatives, of Notion Ink, claims.

The half-inch thick device is likely to be priced at Rs 15,000. The device would be connected to specially-devised servers called Genesis.

Like all gizmo lovers, we dreamed of a device that can be a companion for talking, teaching, playing, and learning, says Shravan, talking about the genesis of the whole project.

“We knew there is the need. Technologies too are available. But what was missing was the integration,” he says.

Easier said. But how this team achieved this makes an interesting story. “We faced several hurdles as we tried to translate the dream into work. The most challenging were finance, human resources, infrastructure facilities and manufacturing of the final product, Sachin Ralhan, co-founder of Notion Ink, recalled.

How they managed to tackle these challenges one by one could be a good case study for wannabe entrepreneurs.

With angel funding from an IT consultant, the team started looking for people to work on the project. They needed about 50 engineers, both hardware and software.

After discussions with several colleges, they tied up with BVRIT, a technology institute not very far from the Hi-Tec City, the hub of all the IT activity in Andhra Pradesh.

The arrangement was simple. Notion Ink would utilise the lab as its development centre and the students as its workforce, while the students get training in the industry-ready technologies such as Android and cloud.

“We then roped in the National Institute of Design (at the Bangalore Research and Development campus) to discuss the user interface that should go into the next generation tablet,” Shravan explains.

As some of them got down to the task of planning the design, internal architecture of the product, HR aspects and infrastructure, the remaining members of the team went to the US and Taiwan to address the hardware and manufacturing needs. While they joined hands with NVIDIA for Tegra, they teamed up with TPK for touch screens and another Original Device Manufacturer for manufacturing the complete product.

Seeing a good idea, NVIDIA offered to handhold the team. “Theirs is a brilliant idea and we have seen the burning desire in them to create an innovative product. It has got good potential in India in the fields of education, entertainment and telemedicine,” J.A. Chowdhary, Managing Director of NVIDIA India, points out.

After nearly a year's hard work and consuming all the monies they earned for a year or two before Notion Ink, the team has not run out of steam as yet.

They are now busy testing the device with some telecom companies for cross-check connectivity issues.

“We are going to get the first batch of 60 Adams. We are in talks with content providers and have signed pacts in some segments. These tie-ups will be for content delivery and content aggregation,” Shravan says.

After the showcase, the company plans to sell the product in the US, India and Europe.

kurmanath@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 21, 2009)
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