How the Aakash Tablet Works

The Future of the World's Cheapest Tablet

Students in India pose with Aakash tablets.
Students in India pose with Aakash tablets.
Image courtesy Aakash

In the end, only time will tell if Aakash is a success. There have been plenty of claims about this product, both from boosters and detractors, that make its future hard to divine. And of course, since the project began there's been a revolution in blogging and the 24-hour tech news cycle that make every press release or crumb of knowledge -- about any gadget at all -- seem world-ending or world-promising.

But IIT-R and the MHRD both seem to have learned from their mistakes in the past -- the July 2012 unveiling in Mumbai was a much more subdued affair, for starters, than that for the Aakash I -- and have perhaps learned the value of managed expectations since the original 2011 flop. For a development that would mean so much to both the infrastructure and future -- but also the heritage and spirit -- of the country, it only makes sense that all eyes are on the Aakash II.

In the final analysis, though, whatever happens next is a blessing, because it's all on the road toward getting students and thinkers in remote areas access to the largest deposit of human knowledge ever created -- the Internet. A few bumps on the road -- a road that began, remember, fewer than 5 years before the first models were presented for testing -- is a tiny price to pay for that kind of leap in global human knowledge.

Some might even say that the idea of the Aakash is more important than its success: Just like the OLPC program inspired the Aakash, the idea of a $60 laptop -- whether built by the Indian government or by innovators elsewhere -- is only a few decisions away from being a reality. As transistors shrink and education becomes more widely available, in fact, it's an inevitability.