Intel Backed Local Languages Interface Helps Indians Negotiate the Web

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Intel is supporting the development and promotion of a new local languages interface designed to help Indians access the Internet without having to discover and type in the URLs (uniform resource locators) of various websites.

The Darpan user interface has been developed by mobile applications company GoDB Tech of Chennai in south India, with technical input from Intel.

It is a free browser plugin for Windows computers that displays to the user content hubs for categories such as news, sports, fun, and games, in large accessible icons, said Mahavir Chand, director of sales and marketing at GoDB.

The user can choose the language in which Darpan shows menus. The content under each of the hubs also changes to link to websites with content in that specific language. More links to websites can also be added to the content hubs by the user.

Darpan is the latest in a number of initiatives in India that aim to address the large number of people in India who are not at ease with computers, or would like to interact with computers in their native language.

The new interface is targeted at people who are put off by complex computer interfaces, and would prefer to quickly access content in their local languages, said Narendra Bhandari, Intel's director of developer relations for the Asia Pacific region. Bhandari gave the example of older people in homes who would prefer to access news and other content in their own languages rather English.

The aim of the user interface is to get people to use computers and access the Internet with some basic, and simplistic usage to start with, Bhandari said. If these people eventually outgrow Darpan and go directly to the browser, then the purpose will have been met, he added.

A problem that such initiatives have faced in the past is that while news and entertainment is available online in local languages, e-commerce and games sites are still predominantly in English. GoDB plans to work with websites to provide users access in their local language to these sites through Darpan, and also offer them a single sign-on, Chand said.

Besides assisting in the development of the user interface, Intel is also planning to promote it among users, through a variety of routes, including by promoting downloads of the software in government offices, villages and schools, Bhandari said.

GoDB's Chand said he is also looking at bundling deals with PC vendors and telecom service providers.

The user interface currently supports five Indian languages and English, and runs natively on the Chrome browser. GoDB plans to offer support for other browsers soon.

The company develops mobile apps for enterprises, and sees in the Darpan interface an opportunity to get into consumer markets, by for example selling advertising on the interface, and developing apps for consumer markets. But first Darpan must reach a user base of at least 100,000 users, Chand said.

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