Indian government looking for a GPS wristwatch to address safety concerns
Kapil Sibal, India’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, has expressed his wish for a GPS enabled wristwatch to ensure women’s safety. The minister wishes for the watch to have features such as GPS, video recording, alarm and capable of calling up dedicated lines – and all that packed into a price less than Rs. 1,000.
“I want a wrist watch, which will video graph, which will set up an alarm, which will call up dedicated lines. Lets have a GPS system and lets produce this for less than Rs 1,000 for the citizens of our country for their safety,” Sibal said.
While GPS enabled wristwatches are not new to the tech world, with monitoring devices for the kids and the elderly already on the market, the price point does seem interesting.
Currently, the Indian government has also asked the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), partner in the Aakash tablet project, to help bring the price of the tablet down to Rs. 1,500. DataWind supplies the Aakash branded tablet to the government at Rs. 2,263 per unit, and the government plans to distribute the tablet to students at a subsidised price of Rs. 1,130 per unit.
“I asked Rajat Moona (Director General, C-DAC) to help us in Aakash. Let us take that Aakash to the people of this country for a sum of Rs 1,500. Each student must have a Aakash in his/her hand so that they can see the world with it.” – Kapil Sibal
The idea of GPS-enabled wristwatch comes in wake of the recent Delhi gang-rape incident, wherein a female physiotherapy intern was beaten and gang raped in a moving vehicle. She died from her injuries thirteen days later while undergoing emergency treatment in Singapore. The incident triggered nationwide protests demanding measures to ensure women’s safety and stricter laws against sexual crimes in the country.
The minister had recently revealed to the Wall Street Journal that the GPS-enabled wristwatch was in the works and that the government has reached out to telecom equipment manufacturer ITI to manufacture the device. Two variants of the device are being developed, first will be priced at $20 (Rs. 1,071 approx.) and another at $50 (Rs. 2,680 approx.). The first prototype is expected to be ready by mid-2013.
While the idea behind it seems definitely noble, it remains to be seen whether it would be properly executed and see the light of day. A GPS enabled wristwatch with the said features and in a price point below Rs. 1000 seems too challenging a task as of now, perhaps even unrealistic. With the government making tall claims in every field of work, and with no deliverance capabilities, it remains to be seen whether they’ll deliver this time around or come up with an excuse.
Salman Ravoof is a mechanical engineer, a freelance writer and an avid science and technology enthusiast. He likes creativity, fantasy and sci-fi genre; revels in experimenting and spends most of his time pondering about the existence of reality.
12 February, 2013