Old and new from India

From dictionaries to mobile phone apps, India is in the news.

First the old: ExpressIndia reports that the Sanskrit to English dictionary from Deccan College Post Graduate and Research Institute in Pune is now midway through the letter “A”.  Okay, but the project began in 1948. Sanskrit-English dictionaries are available, so what is the difference with this one? The heart of the dictionary, the Scriptorium, is 9 million references taken from 1,500 texts representing 62 branches of ancient Indian knowledge from the Vedic period until 1800 CE. It’s exhausting to think about. Evidently, not just for me.

And now for the new: Mobile phone texting is a way of life for many of us all over the world. It’s more difficult in India: the 500 million mobile phone users. Devanagari, used in writing Hindi, Marathi, Nepali, Sanskrit and other languages has 70 characters – way too many for normal mobile phone keypads. Enter Luna Ergonomics, from Noida, India. They have developed the Panini keypad for mobile phones. (Named after an Sanskrit grammarian who lived 2500 years ago, not the delicious sandwiches.)

With a keypad-like display, 9 characters are displayed. As you enter a character, the software shows 9 more characters using predictive technology to determine which to show. The website has some broken links as of this writing, perhaps a sign that they are working on the technology more than the website. The technology has received some recognition including the Judges Choice Award at the Nokia Innovations 2009 contest for being among the top 10 mobile innovations in the category of emerging markets and mobile necessities.


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