Getting ready to roll

For quite some time now, we have been working on a project called “Nije Shikhi” (নিজে শিখি. It has been something very close to our heart, not just because we developed the concept, worked on bringing different technology and content together on one platform, but rather for the potential we see in it in terms of helping to bridge the digital chasm.

The project targets 6 - 15 year old youth, including both in-school as well as those outside the school system, by creating edutainment kiosks using local language desktops based on open source and utilizing open-access / commons content. A critical factor in the project involves placement of the kiosks in an openly accessible place in the local community when the target group can access the units without requiring adult supervision.

The project envisions being a key enabler in terms of the e-governance readiness among the masses, specially the youth. To empower them to become early adoptors towards the goal of creating an inclusive, knowledge driven society.

We wanted something low-power (as in energy efficient), mobile, dust-resistant, low heat-generation/thermal profile. At the time when we started, the AMD Geode was the platform readily available to us. It ran off 12V DC, was fan-less in design (this dust-retardant), and ran with minimal heating. Thanks to AMD Far East Ltd (India) for loaning us one of their initial test units in India for our work. Thanks to Jayarama Kasargod of AMD, who helped with detailed hardware specs and assurance to undertake even drop tests if our work warranted one :)

The hardware assembly based on the AMD UVC (now available under the Wipro brand name of Protos PC) and a localized (BN_IN / HI_IN) open source OS and apps stack placed on the HDD or booted and run via an USB stick. The solar panels came from West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA), with a lot help from the director, Mr. S. P. Gonchowdhury
The project has been taken up for deployment by the West Bengal University of Technology, which plans to set up ~ 500 - 600 units of Nije Shikhi kiosks, with the option of using solar-generated power, in collaboration with West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA).

The initial pilot phase goes into putting 22 of these boxes out into the open. One of these pilot deployments is happening in collaboration with UNESCO and an NGO in West Bengal. This involves a solar-powered, mobile tele-centre using the AMD UVC platform and our Nije Shikhi software stack. The tricycle van with the solar panel is now ready. The journey of the UVC is just about to begin.

solar-van img_3142 img_2183 img_3140

More pictures from our experimentation are here. So, buckle up, the journey is about to begin. :)

37 Responses to “Getting ready to roll”

  1. Satabdi Says:


    It’s great to hear such thing. Could you please let me know where have you installed such kiosks and how they are doing now? How much value they have been able to add to the children? Is there such a kiosk within Kolkata? If yes then where?

    :) I have bugged you with lots of questions. Hope to see a few anwsers soon. By the way, I am associated with an organisation called AID (Association for India’s Development and we are also working on education. So may be we can start doing something together.


  2. Mobile solar powered kiosks, powered by GNOME, and college protests « Sayamindu’s Ramblings Says:

    […] Read more about the initiative here.       […]

  3. » Blog Archive » Iniciativas interessantes…. Says:

    […] Mobile solar powered kiosks, powered by GNOME […]

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  9. peekay Says:

    good work .. now i am a bit more updated ..

    the tricycle mounted solar panel system for dispensing kerosene to villagers where there was no electricity was displayed by mr. G .. but this use to power 12 Volt fanless laptops is the right use of that good tech ..

    the one thing that may be an issue is connectivity .. with so many mobile service providers and the rapidly expanding reach of mobile phones (including bsnl/mtnl) connecting to internet especially for email send/get function should be possible

    web contents on CD’s was a good solution which was the foundation stone for infotech use for the people by dr. ranjan roy (st. xavier’s college professor who worked a lot for the people’s benefit .. now expired)

    good luck


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