NEW DELHI: Mumbai-based tech start-up Firstouch has joined hands with theDepartment of Electronics and IT (DeitY) to introduce native Operating System integrated text-to-speech technology in regional languages to give wings to the Digital India movement.
The start-up was founded by three IIT Bombay alumni (Rakesh Deshmukh, Akash Dongre and Sudhir B) has been revolutionizing the smartphone industry in India by developing the country’s first regional smartphone operating system. It is regarded as the pioneer and expert in the business of developing indigenous Android based customized OS.
Firstouch has been credited with enabling a smooth transition from feature phones to smartphones amongst the non-English speaking market by making the user interface intuitive and easy to use.
The company’s vision is to put the power of technology into the hands of the regional language speaker in India. This partnership with DeitY will drive smartphone penetration in the Tier2, Tier 3 cities and digitally connect 300 million consumers with Internet in the next five years.
Department of Electronics and IT of the Ministry of Communications and IT has been promoting research in the domain of Indian regional languages through initiatives such as the Technology Development of Indian Languages (TDIL) program. TDIL has funded research in the country’s premier technology institutes such as the IITs to develop regional language tools to make technology accessible to every Indian. As part of this initiative, the TTS consortium led by IIT Madras has developed 9 language TTS systems.
The consortium consists of partners from CDAC’s, IIT’s and other Engineering Institutions, an excellent example of collaboration in R&D. The partnership between the Consortium and Firstouch was facilitated by TDIL formalized through an MOU between IIT Madras and OSLabs Technology India Pvt. Ltd. TDIL has agreed to transfer this technology to Firstouch. This software will now be integrated in the Firstouch OS, which already has a two-million smartphone user-base, and plans to reach a 100 million by 2018.
All Firstouch OS enabled smartphone devices will be priced at under INR 10,000 to truly serve and benefit the rural market. “Now is the time to embrace the government’s Make In India directive by not just manufacturing smartphones in India, but also adopting an operating system made in India, for India, by India”, said Deshmukh, Firstouch’s CEO.
He went on to add, “This is our first collaboration with the government, and we are committed to exploring more such partnerships in the future to truly build India’s Android.“
The tech start-upwill customize the text-to-speech functionality to build a powerful native experience for its consumers. Additionally, it will release some of its innovations such as SDK, allowing developers to integrate and make more localized apps. Firstouch plans to release the text-to-speech technology as part of SDK for developers to maximize this partnership’s value by garnering a broader user base.