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Intel unveils `Ruggedised' PC platform for rural India

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PC models to be manufactured by OEMs like HCL

RURAL MARKET: Mr Frank Jones (centre), President, Intel India, at the launch of a PC platform to meet the needs of rural markets in New Delhi on Wednesday. Sandeep Saxena
RURAL MARKET: Mr Frank Jones (centre), President, Intel India, at the launch of a PC platform to meet the needs of rural markets in New Delhi on Wednesday. Sandeep Saxena

Our Bureau

New Delhi, March 29

In a bid to take computers to the rural communities in India, global chip major Intel unveiled on Wednesday a new Ruggedised Personal Computer platform designed to withstand adverse weather conditions including heat, dust and humidity and run on alternate power sources, including the car battery.

Based on the platform design, the Ruggedised PCs would be manufactured by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like HCL Infosystems and Wipro.

"The PC platform design has been created in India, in collaboration with other Intel worldwide centres, and we now plan to take it to other countries too. This Intel-powered PC platform which includes microprocessor, motherboard and software is equipped to operate in a community setting," Mr R.K. Amar Babu, Managing Director (South Asia), Sales and Marketing, Intel Technology India said at a conference here.

Mr Ajai Chowdhry, Chairman of HCL Infosystems, said his company would make these PCs available in the next 30 days.

Intel's solution partners for the initiative include NIIT, Microsoft, TCS and Red Hat among others. Although Intel declined to divulge the price of the proposed product, saying the OEM vendors would finalise this in due course, sources said the community PC range may be priced at Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000.

Features

The PC can operate on an alternative power source such as the car battery under disruptive power environments, and can function in hot and dusty environments.

It has a removable dust filter and an integrated air fan to regulate the temperature of the motherboard.

The chassis is designed to keep the motherboard cool at temperatures as high as 45 degree Celsius, and resistant to humidity levels of 70-85 RH (relative humidity).

The total power consumption of all the peripherals is less than 100 watts. The platform comes installed with a Certificate-based access, allowing banks to verify the validity of instalment payments against the purchase of the PC.At the event, HCL also demonstrated a model of a Ruggedised PC that can be charged by pedalling a `special cycle with a dynamo' connected to a car battery. With an output ratio of 2:1 (one hour of pedalling would run the system for half an hour), the PC can be used in the most difficult of power situations in the country.

Applications

Such a PC would be used for communication (e-mail); e-governance applications including online bill payment, processing and submission of Government documents; delivery of agriculture, healthcare and entertainment services; in education, research and information sharing; and for e-commerce activities including commodity price information, online trading and banking transactions.Intel expects many of these Community PC platforms to be deployed in Internet kiosks. The kiosks many of which are being proposed as Common Service Centres under the National e-Governance Plan are operated by local entrepreneurs and provide neighbouring communities with access to services including e-Governance forms (land records and marriage licence among others). Intel said that the PCs have already been tested in pilot projects across various states. "We took the proposed product to villages and made changes in accordance with the rural requirements," Mr Amar Babu pointed out.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 30, 2006)
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