Cell phone majors to enable desi SMS

CIOL Bureau
New Update

PUNE: The most popular feature being exploited in cell phones today is the SMS (short messaging service). SMS, worldwide, has become a very popular medium of communication over the decade as mobile phones are becoming cheaper. However, English continues to be the most commonly used language for sending and receiving SMS.

Significantly, India has an English literate population that is less than six percent. With the mobile market growing at an average of more than a million subscribers per month, there is an untapped market of more than 500 million prospective users.

Many major mobile manufacturing companies like Nokia, Samsung, LG and Motorola have already implemented Hindi, or are in the process of doing so. However, the implementation is not user-unfriendly. The manufacturers have introduced their own proprietary keypad layouts based on English or similar layouts and typing text in Hindi using such keypads becomes a great challenge for the users as the number of alphabets in Hindi are more than in English and the keypads based on English layout are unsuitable for Indian languages.

Dishnet DSL chairman, Dr Vijay Bhatkar describes this scenario as `an enduring endeavor to facilitate communication in Indian languages’ — thanks to the new software developed by the Pune-based Penfosys Pvt Ltd and the Indian International Multiversity. The duo has designed a specific keypad layout for Indian scripts based on ancient Sanskrit grammar.

Said Penfosys' Vivekanand Pani, chief architect of this design, "We have designed a keypad layout for Indian scripts based on ancient Sanskrit grammar expert Panini's principles. This keypad design is more suitable as the learning curve is very small. The basic philosophy behind the keypad design is based on the native properties of Indic scripts and to have a single key for two similar sounding alphabets. We have worked on the design in such a way that the person who wants to type k or kh needs to press just one key. As a result we have managed to fit 57 alphabets in just nine keys."

Said CEO of Penfosys Pvt Ltd Sandeep Bhat, "From the outset we had decided to make solutions that cater specifically to the mobile and small device segments where the memory and processing and battery power constraints are high. This is the first time in the world that an effort has been put in designing the prediction and look-ahead tools for Indian Languages. The earlier attempts by others have more often than not been an extension of currently used tools for European and Latin-based languages."

"Our core engine is less than 5 KB in size. The grammar file for each script is approximately about 500-700 bytes, but may depend on the type of complexity of the script and may increase or decrease," he said.

In addition, this team has also designed and developed grammar-based predictive tools specially designed for Indian Languages. India International Multiversity — the trust formed under Dr Vijay Bhatkar, Vivek Sawant of Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation and Kisan Maharaj Sakhare has provided the much needed inputs for the Indian fonts.

Commenting on their marketing strategy, Bhat said that the company was in talks with mobile majors such as Samsung, LG and Nokia to get this keypad layout as part of their handsets. If the talks are successful, we will license the technology to them, he said, adding that the company is also holding talks with the government through Dr Bhatkar to form some kind of standardization as far as keypad solutions are concerned as currently every manufacturer has a keypad solution of its own.