Project Darpan: Digitizing Indian local languages

Compared to the relatively slow adoption rate of the traditional PC, that of the mobile ballooned, rather quickly. India has about 9 million PC users and a whopping 500 million mobile users, which is still growing. The increase in the number of PC (with Internet) users will have a powerful impact on the Indian online market. Language barrier is among the various factors that play foul for PC penetration and consumption of digital data. Multilingual interfaces pertaining to local languages would ensure that the Internet isn’t limited to literate users only. Intel, along with its software partners have been working on an initiative to come up with a simple, easy to use and multilingual user interface, and this has given rise to Project Darpan. It is an initiative by Intel and its partners to increase this number to the potential 100 million households in India who can buy the PC.


Simple user interface


What is Project Darpan?

Project Darpan is a simple graphical user interface, allowing users not comfortable with the English language to choose from five local Indian languages and access digital data like News, Entertainment, Music, Comics in the language of their choice. The project is still in the beta stage and therefore there is a limit on the content available in languages other than English and obviously could be buggy as well. This is a step towards introducing digital content to masses by negating language barriers, if any. So, it may not necessarily please an Internet savvy user, but could be a great deal for those looking to access content online in other local languages.

Some key highlights:

  • Darpan software provides the consumers with an easy to understand interface to key Internet applications.
  • Darpan also has the key functionality to customize the language interface from a list of Indian languages.
  • Darpan offers the freedom to change the color schemes and themes for the user.
  • Darpan is automatically updated and the consumer can have access to newer content tabs periodically.

We spoke to Mr. Sachin Kelkar, Head, APAC software partner program, Intel, who has been handling the Project Darpan. This is what he said, “Project Darpan will help Indian users who are often scared to use computers due to lack of relevant  content and fear of English. Project Darpan will take away this fear by providing an easy access to Indian internet content in a simplified manner. Project Darpan will create an ecosystem of content providers and innovative software companies which will impact the consumption of internet content in a big way, thus by fuelling a local language content ecosystem spiral. This initiative will also explore robust business models for all the ecosystem players and will benefit the end consumer immensely.” 

Sachin Kelkar,Head, APAC software partner program, Intel

Sachin Kelkar,Head, APAC software partner program, Intel


Roughly 18 months back, the Intel team began conceptualizing the initial stages of the project Darpan. The move began with understanding the challenges faced by common Indian users in accessing PCs, which has been found to be very critical in improving the PC desirability. Some more research and simple and localized comsumption of local Indian content could be lacking. “The factor of Indian local language usage as computing medium was analyzed and it gave the idea to explore software solutions which explore this concept of simplicity and ease of access,” he added.


News in local languages


He further tells us that the early version of Darpan was used as proof of concept by Intel internally to gather feedback from various stakeholders and customers. Based on the feedback and working with ecosystem partners, the current version was developed by M/s GoDB . The role of Intel is to provide support for  adoption of usage of Darpan by working with various Go To Market initiatives with its channel partners and OEMs. Through Project Darpan , Intel will be keen to evolve the content ecosystem in Indian languages.

Getting started with Project Darpan
To begin with, one can download the graphical UI from here. Downloading and installing is simple and an easy guide is right there to assist you. On installation, you can access it as a guest or register and create an account with Darpan. The entire process takes less than 5 minutes (which may depend on your Internet connection) and you wouldn't take much time getting a hang of it.


Chosse a language


System requirements

Prior to installation do check on these factors that are essential for the Darpan UI to work. The PC requires Windows XP or a higher version of the Windows operating system and also Chrome 10 or above and of course an Internet connection. The software automatically downloads Chrome when required.


Pay bills online


Using the UI
The main page of the graphical icons show huge icons just like the ones on your phone's display. Icons reading News, Entertainment, Fun, Finance, Bills, Utilities, Education, Sports and more takes on the front page. Place the cursor on any icon and press ‘Insert’ to add the icon to Favorites. On the right upper corner, there are two drop boxes to choose the language of your choice and the other drop box takes you to Settings, Internet, Favorites and more. Settings lets you personalize the UI with very limited options of colours, and also font size and themes.


Stay entertained


Under the News section, you will find a wide variety of categories, ranging from city news to world news and tech, sports and business news. Under English, you’ll find TOI, IBN Live , Hindustan Times and Indian Express, while on changing the language to Hindi, it will show Dainik Bhaskar, IBN Live, NDTV, to name a few. Under Web Services, there is Google Search, Wikipidea, YouTube and ibibo. It, basically brings together several functions, like online bill payment, online entertainment, mobile TV, online research and so on under one roof.


Web services platter



Similarly, it has tried to introduce digital consumer habits, like you will find online bill payment options under Bills, online shopping sites, like Naaptol and BigBazaar under shopping, and recipes, health tips and more under Lifestyle. However, there isn't enough content in other languages, just yet. Once the content generated in other languages increases, it could be more beneficial for the rural masses who can enjoy and access Internet with ease.


Mobile bill payments


Do not expect the UI to be flawless and there are various issues that still need to be taken care of. The UI doesn't recognize right click and instantly gives a pop up saying the same. Utilities and a few other functions don't allow you to open more than one function at a time. For instance - in Utilities, you cannot open  Docs and Spreadsheets at the same time, and only one function can be used at a time. Another problem is that the content in other languages is limited. Once this bit is taken care of, the software could prove to be beneficial to the masses, especially those who have not embraced the PC, due to a language barrier.

Published Date: Mar 22, 2012 09:33 am | Updated Date: Mar 22, 2012 09:33 am