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Desi innovation international companies

Blame it on the Indian air or the water, this innovation fever hasn't spared even the biggest organisations, writes Puneet Mehrotra.
None | By Puneet Mehrotra
UPDATED ON OCT 13, 2007 08:43 PM IST

Innovation in India happens like no other country in the world. Two months ago in my column titled "Indian cell phone surfer", I had mentioned about washing machines being used to churn lassi and generator engines being used to run automobiles (juggad). Way up in the hills they use chinni (sugar) instead of cement to build houses and insulate it with lambs wool. Innovation in India happens and India moves and everybody is happy. Blame it on the Indian air or the water, this innovation fever hasn't spared even the biggest organisations. Consider the following products from Microsoft Research Labs and Google Labs made for India.

Seeta aur Geeta Microsoft Style - A computer with 2 windows

Imagine a computer with 2 windows, 2 mice and 2 keyboards. Sounds exotic, right? A product of Microsoft Research India, this allows two people to work simultaneously on the same PC, in situations where they can't buy more PCs. This is done by splitting the screen and displaying two independent sessions simultaneously. Each session interacts with separate keyboard and mouse, and makes it seem effectively as if there are two computers in one, for only a small incremental hardware cost (mice and keyboards).

Multipoint - The winning formula for education

Hardware costs maybe down but it is still the hardware cost that is a deterrent in computers dripping down to masses. Multiple mice enable a lot of scenarios for collaborative learning, something which was never really been possible easily with single mouse-based educational software.

Google gets desi

Google has always had an Indian element to it. The Indianess has always been emphasised as not that of backend support but of innovation. The list of Indian innovations from Google started with Google Finance and now, Google itself has become Indian, literally.

Google language tools

If you thought Sanskrit was a dead language going the Pali way, you obviously haven't checked out Google Indic languages tool. The other tool from Google India Labs (Google likes to call it just Labs) called Google Transliterate lets you convert the text in the Indian language of your choice. This tool can be added just about anywhere even in non-Google environments.

Google SMS

Google and Microsoft maybe at loggerheads but Google is out to make sure it retains the online user base on web and on mobile too. Last week Google launched Google SMS mobile messaging service through which users can get business listings, movie showtimes more simply by sending a text message to the shortcode 54664 [5GOOG] (blame the 5 on the TRAI regulation for reasons best known to them) from their mobile phones. This service is currently supported on most networks like Airtel, Aircel, BPL, BSNL and Reliance networks, and has relevant local data for mobile users in Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai.

The last word

India has always been a land of innovation. From food to exercise, from sciences to technology, it has always been an innovator. The only difference is the karma credits for innovations are now coming back to India. Wonder what's next in the pipeline?

(Puneet Mehrotra writes on business and technology issues on You can mail him at

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