Friday, December 07, 2007

Multi-Lingual Keyboard - Lekhika 2007

I was very encouraged today to hear the announcement of Lekhika 2007 - a wordprocessing application that covers ten scripts and 3000 characters and supports Windows, MAC and Linux, with a unique way of converting regular keyboards into local language keyboards by creating a simulated keyboard on the bottom part of the screen. See a demo/clip here -- http://www.ibnlive.com/videos/52667/lekhika-takes-technology-to-masses.html

This summer when I was in Nepal, I was fortunate to connect with a group of people working on Open Learning Exchange Nepal (OLE Nepal) -- who are working to produce localized content and educational material aimed for OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project. OLE Nepal is putting a lot of effort to produce Nepali-based content, but the XO laptop's board is still US English-based -- which stresses that a key obstacle for a truly localized computer is not having a local language-based keyboard.

There have been keyboards that support multiple languages (Japanese keyboards comes to mind), but just like any business, they are meant for languages that have a sizable market that wants to buy and use computers. But what about languages like Nepali for example? Being a developing country with no computer manufacturing facility, where can Nepal expect to get laptops that have a Nepali keyboard? And likewise, I'm sure there are so many other students that will be able to get much more usage out of a computer if they had one in their language.

So I hope software like Lekhika paves the way for a new line of innovations that make it easy to enable localized keyboards, and a truly localized computing experience. Sure, because of its origins, the dual nature of keyboard (i.e. local language + English) will still be needed for some time. But if projects like OLPC are truly aiming to have a laptop for every child (regardless of what language they speak and where in the world they live) -- then they must incorporate a solution for 100% localization which includes the keyboard.

3 comments:

Yogesh said...

Just want to let you know that there is a much better service available on internet for this purpose called Lipik.in
Not only it predicts the curret word that a person is typing but also the entire next word based on the context. Moreover, its completely free to use available at www.lipik.in

Try it yourself to experience the difference...

Regards,
Yogesh

Sandeep Giri said...

Thanks for your post, Yogesh. I checked out lipik.in and have to say, was pretty impressed. Are you running this as an open source type project? I'm interested in learning how one would go about adding more local languages keyboard layout on top of what you already have.

yogesh said...

Thanks Sandeep.
New languages can be added fairly easily with minimal effort. With a right quality Corpus, we can do this in as little as 2 days.

We are currently working on adding Tamil, Oriya and Chinese and plan to add other Indian languages as and when the Corpora become available to us.

We are in the process of launching a Startup and plan to license the Lipik technology for integration with other solution. e.g. email services, local language products etc.
We will keep the website free to individual users.