The Bhasha design competition finally ended! And not to sound too big headed but it was a brilliant success. I have just finished sending the last set of journalists material and now I can sit back, take a deep breath and call it a wrap!

To give you a brief overview

Every year Nokia collaborates with universities and colleges across the world to nurture innovative ideas from the talented young minds that will shape our future. Sponsored by Nokia Research Center Growth Economies Lab and a part of Nokia’s Open Innovation activities, this year’s offering is Bhasha.

Bhasha is a platform that stimulates the collaboration between Nokia Research Center and India’s key design institutions to explore and develop innovation in design.

‘Bhasha’ aims to identify ideas and designs that will encourage the use of Indian languages on mobile phones, and as the result possibly make users more literate in their native language through casual learning.

Mobile technology truly holds a great potential to make a difference in people’s lives. While there are numerous attempts to introduce new information services through mobile phones, especially in domains such as agriculture, entrepreneurship and healthcare, there is one critical barrier in adopting such mobile services in India: Language.
India is a unique country with many languages. There are 22 official languages in the country and over 2000 spoken dialects. Needless to say, a lot of cultural experiences, entertainment and news are absorbed in local or vernacular languages.

Ironically, digital tools have not caught up with Indian languages very well despite India’s growing reputation as the world’s hub for information technology. English is still considered as the de facto language of use. An increasing number of educated Indians are becoming less literate in their own mother tongue: this is an outcome of reduced opportunities in writing, partially contributed by the contemporary education system putting more emphasis on English learning.

Given the current state of local language use, literacy and perception, Bhasha design competition challenged the participating design students to come up with a solution to promote the use of vernacular Indian languages on mobile phones, to promote increase in the level of literacy and in turn preserve Indian heritage and its cultural identity.

Bhasha design competition invited students from the following four premier design institutes in India:

1. NID (National Institute of Design), Ahemdabad

2. SID (Symbiosis Institute of Design), Pune

3. Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore

4. IIT (Indian Institute of Technology), Kanpur

The project was lead by yours truly along with Dhaval Joshi  along with inputs from Younghee Jung. We mentored the students through the duration of this competition, to ensure that all the concepts were thought in a holistic manner. It was important to also guide the participants to ensure that the ideas had a good business model and could be developed in the near future.

The final event was held in Bangalore where 9 finalist teams presented their ideas.

The competition was judged by Mahendra Bhai Patel and Sugata Mitra.

Mahendra Bhai Patel is one of the greatest type and graphic designers today. Mahendra Patel (21.02.1943) is a retired Principal Designer from the National Institute of Design (NID),Ahmedabad, in 2003.

In 2000, he has designed Signage Design System for Tirumala and Tirupati Devasthanam, India’s most busy privilege place.

In 2002 He has designed the Signage Design System for Hyderabad City. In 2010 He received the most prestigious Gutenberg International Award for his contribution in Type Design Development of Indian Scripts.

He has taught and practiced for 39 years at NID since 1964. He has also taught at Rhode Island School of Design, USA; Nova Scotia College of Arts, Canada; Christchurch College of Arts, New Zealand and Indus Valley School of Arts and Architecture, Pakistan.

Presently after retiring from NID, he is busy designing matching fonts for all Indian scripts, including English.
He is a Senior Adjunct Faculty at Symbiosis Institute of Design from 2007 and also a Senior Adjunct Faculty at MIT Institute of Design from 2009, both at Pune.

Website: http://patelmc.wordpress.com/

Sugata Mitra: Sugata Mitra also needs no introduction.

Professor. Sugata Mitra is Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University, UK. He is also Chief Scientist, Emeritus, at NIIT and since his Hole in the Wall experiment has been one of the most invited keynote speakers on education in the world.

In 1999, Sugata Mitra and his colleagues dug a hole in a wall bordering an urban slum in New Delhi, installed an Internet-connected PC, and left it there (with a hidden camera filming the area). What they saw was kids from the slum playing around with the computer and in the process learning how to use it and how to go online, and then teaching each other.
Prof. Mitra is a leading proponent of Minimally Invasive Education. He has a PhD in Physics and is credited with more than 25 inventions in the area of cognitive science and education technology. He was amongst the first people in the world to invent Voluntary Perception Recording (a continuously variable voting machine) and a hyperlinked computing environment, several years ahead of the Internet. He was conferred the prestigious Dewang Mehta Award for Innovation in Information Technology in the year 2005.

Srishti school of Art, design and technology walked away with the top prizes. Kaccha Limbu a game that helps migrant students to learn local languages and manage their daily chores won the top prize. Pitara, a project that archives stories passed orally won the second prize. The third position was shared by IIT Kanpur and NID for mobile games which both promoted learning local script and phrases.

You can read and view all the concepts here.

Bhasha I am happy to say has been covered national wide by leading magazines and newspapers. The winning teams will have the opportunity of connecting with developers to develop their concepts!

Here are 3 links of many from some of the online coverage we got!




That’s all from me till next week!

Enjoy your weekend everyone!


2 thoughts on “Bhasha2011, Nokia Research Center

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