Notion Ink, a Hyderabad-based technology start-up, has developed the first touchscreen tablet which uses Google’s open source operating system Android, Nvidia’s yet-to-be launched Tegra processor chips and a power-saving display screen from the US-based fabless developer Pixel Qi.
The tablet PC developed by six IITians and an MBA will be showcased for the first time at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show in January 2010.
“After the evolution of desktops, laptops and notebooks, the next innovation is going to be a complete touchscreen you can write on. And, we thought we needed to take the first step. It took us a year to come up with the design, requirements and proposed technologies to make this device a reality,” says Rohan Shravan, founder and director (creatives) of Notion Ink. The company was floated in February 2009.
Called Notion Ink, the new tablet has a 10.1-inch touchscreen. In terms of portability, it is powered by Nvidia’s Tegra processor chip, weighs 770 grams and offers features like Bluetooth, a 3-megapixel digital camera with autofocus, video recording and 32GB data storage.
“Theoretically, it can work for 25 days if one just listens to music. To be precise, it has 48 hours of standby, eight hours of high-definition video and 16 hours of Wi-Fi internet surfing usage time,” claims Shravan.
For designing the device, the company collaborated with Bangalore-based National Institute of Design. “We wanted to adopt an operating system which would make our device ‘talk’ to any other device. And we chose Google’s Android. But India doesn’t have people working on Android and those who have, charge Rs 1 lakh per resource per month (like Tata Elxsi or Sasken). So, we opted to train 46 students from the Hyderabad-based information technology institute BVR IT who are now working full time with us,” he adds.
Notion Ink has filed two patents — one for the design and the other for technology — in India, Taiwan and China, which makes it easy to tie up with an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) in Taiwan. It is yet to file 67 patents, most of which are for user interface, hardware changes and software optimisation . It is also working on creating digital books, songs, movies and media content for the device.
Four Taiwanese companies have already evinced interest to manufacture the device. “We have global ambitions, so the US is a very important market for us, and that needs networking. For this reason, we are going to showcase our product in Las Vegas,” Shravan says, adding they are planning to launch the smartpad commercially in June 2010.
The company would adopt a complete service model, wherein the Taiwanese OEM will have 90 days to manufacture and Notion Ink another 90 days to pay them back after selling the devices. It is targeting to sell 1.5 million units of the tablet PC in the first year of launch. The device is tentatively priced at below $400 (Rs 18,800) in the US and below $300 (Rs 14,100) in India (with subsidy from telecom operators).
“The device will be bundled with internet services by telecom operators. Already 10 telcos in the US and four in India, which offer 3G services, have shown interest. We will be finalising one telco for the US and one for India during the four-day Mobile World Congress, which is scheduled to be held at Barcelona, Spain, from February 15, 2010,”