This keyboard is meant specifically for Indian languages
Guru Prasadlaunched a new keyboard named Ka-Naadawhich supports several languages based on the Brahmi Lipi and groups letters according to phonetics.
- The keyboard also has more keys on it than the Qwerty keyboard, including some ancient alphabets from Indian languages that has been lost in time.
- Prasad believes that the digital world may keep the Indian languages from dying if children can use the keyboard to learn and take forward the languages.
In April, Guru Prasad launched a new keyboard named Ka-Naada which supports several languages based on the Brahmi Lipi. It is a unique product that groups letters according to phonetics which makes it highly intuitive and user friendly. It is available in both, hardware and software and it is entirely made in
The keyboard is compatible with all the devices and is available in multiple languages including Devanagari, Kannada, Gujarati, Gurumukhi, Malayalam, Tulu and Oriya. Once the user knows any one of these languages, the keyboard allows the user to type in their mother tongue and has the ability to change the typed alphabets into about seven Indian languages by just using a switch on the keyboard. It will soon be available in Brahmi-based foreign languages too, including Malay, Sinhalese, and Nepalese.
“My mother tongue is Tulu. That script got lost in 1840, within 20 years of its origin, due to the introduction of Kannada typeset. I was able to revive it from the palm scripts and now, I have made a keyboard in my mother tongue,” Prasad told Business Insider.
Prasad has been working on this keyboard since 2009. “My everything, I left behind,” he said.
“It was in December when I thought - what am I doing?! None of the marketing agencies took our product because it was too big, with too many languages,” he added.
Prasad earlier had plans of making a square keyboard that could be used with a single hand, since he believed it was more beneficial. However, since people are not used to it, he changed his keyboard accordingly.
The placing of alphabets on the desi keyboard was done by Dr Sastry based on phonetics. Sastry was a linguistic teacher at the Hindu University of America where Prasad was volunteering. They both observed how difficult it is for Indian students in USA to learn their native languages and they tried to understand why it was so.
When they saw that it was the Qwerty keyboard that was making them learn their own language through English, they decided to make a desi version. Sastry developed nine combinations of swara-vyanjanas based on how they are spoken and strategically placed them on the keyboard.
“The Qwerty keyboard is spelling based but ours is pronunciation based, which makes it even more suitable to the Indian languages,” Sastry told Business Insider.
Advertisement“I have been working on it since 2004. I am stressing on the fact that we do not need the English language to type our own languages on a keyboard,” Sastry added.
The keyboard also has some ancient alphabets from Indian languages that are not used anymore and have been lost in time. The English language has about half the alphabets that Indian languages have. Therefore, this desi keyboard also has more keys on it.
KaNaada has received funding from several associations like Kannada Praadhikaara and Government of Karnataka, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), Centre of Excellence, IISc. They received their US patent in 2017 and are hoping to get the Indian one soon.
The keyboard was first introduced to the Indian children in a Kannada class in the US. When Prasad felt confident about how comfortable the students were with it, he then introduced it in India.
While children get really comfortable with it, adults find it difficult since they are used to the qwerty keyboard. Prasad is planning to create another keyboard which is ergonomically similar. He is also planning to design his product in such manner that the same keyboard can also be used by the visually impaired.
Advertisement“The visually impaired do not want to be treated differently. They don’t like it,” he pointed out.
And to make things work faster, Prasad has a team in place in his Kanaada Phonetics Private Limited, which is not even one year old yet.
Prasad believes that “the digital world might be the key to enable our languages and also co-exist with English and others” and this may happen if the children can use this keyboard to learn and take forward the languages.
Prasad’s team has been able to install the keyboard along with computers in many rural schools. Some of the schools where his team got to work at had never even seen a computer before. A lot of volunteers from NGOs and students from overseas, working under the Youth Ambassador programme, helped Prasad and his team put things in place for a project that they believe will help Indian children connect with their counterparts from across the world.
“The project was completed exactly a year after I came to India. And my favourite part is that my father, who passed away three months ago, wanted it installed in schools and we managed to do what he wanted,” Prasad said.
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