The growing internet penetration in India has empowered many. Yet one of the main issues faced by a majority of the population is the unavailability of tools to use and access information in regional Indian languages.
To simplify lives of those who wish to communicate in regional languages using their smartphones, the Industrial Design Centre (IDC) in Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B) has designed Swarachakra.
The Indian language keyboard is available in 12 regional languages.
Image for representation only. Source: Pexels
Swarachakra is available free of cost for all Android phone users and it is integrated with the Better Together framework, allowing users to run an application on multiple phones at the same time. It means that a user typing on one phone using the Swarachakra keyboard can also see the conversation on the second phone.
The Swarachakra is available in Hindi, Marathi, Konkani, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Oriya, Bengali, Assamese, Punjabi and Gujarati.
“So far, there have been over 18 lakh downloads of the new keyboard. We’re seeing about one lakh downloads a month,” Prof Anirudha Joshi of the IDC School of Design who led the six-member IIT-B team, told The Hindu.
Born out of about 12 years of research in the usability of text input by Indian users, Swarachakra has been specially designed by teams of experts who also happen to be native speakers of those respective languages. Thus, even when both Hindi and Marathi use the Devanagari script, the different designs for the two languages allow users to type the nuanced differences between the two languages.
The uniqueness of the dynamic keyboard lies in the way it keeps the structure of Indian scripts in mind. While a typical keyboard is designed for the alphabet and thus does not recognise the typicalities of the Indian scripts, Swarachakra stands apart due to the fact that it doesn’t use the alphabet as the basis for its application.
Since the idea took shape during the desktop computer era, the team has made about 100 keyboards and used them for internal research projects. After Android phones became available, the team came up with the current version of the keyboard.
The ‘splitting’ project to allow users to use two phones simultaneously is the product of collaboration with Swansea University, titled ‘Re-shaping the Expected Future’. The Better Together toolkit and Swarachakra keyboard is to be unveiled on March 20 at the Microsoft Research division’s office in Bangalore.
To download Swarachakra keyboard in 12 Indian languages, click here.