Text input device for Indic languages
The majority of the Indian population is more comfortable with communication in regional languages. Even when English is used, it is often liberally sprinkled with words from an Indian language for greater effect. This is quite common in direct and telephonic conversations, and even in written communication, but not on a computer. This is because, typing Indian languages on the computer keyboard is complex, and current schemes for feeding text in Indian languages are not adequately usable. Many solutions for 'Text Input in Indian Languages'
are based on the currently used QWERTY keyboard designed for the Roman script.
Indic scripts have a different structure from the Roman ones and none of the above commercially available keyboards are usable by a majority of Indian people.
As a solution to this problem, Prof. Anirudha Joshi and his team at the Industrial Design Centre through a Media Lab Asia Project have worked on designing alternative mechanisms for text input in Devnagari. Amongst several alternatives, a keyboard called Key-Lekh was developed with a goal to enable persons familiar with Devnagari to use it without instructions. For example, on a ticket vending machine at a railway station, literate passengers should be able to 'walk up and use' this keyboard to type their name, destination and other details to buy train tickets. The underlying concept of the design of Key-Lekh is based on the 'Varnamala'-the well-structured Indian alphabetic system. Studies on a prototype have proven that the Key-Lekh is an efficient 'walk-up-and- use' keyboard, and can also work as a desktop keyboard. The prototype was subjected to extensive tests by users in various age-groups through road shows and competitions
held, on the campus. The feedback suggested that Key-Lekh is the easiest-to learn keyboard yet developed for Indian scripts. Key-Lekh's design is being further improved to make it more robust and useful as a commercial product.