Mobile tech startup Firstouch announces tie-up with DeitY to boost text-to-speech tech in rural smartphones


About the collaboration

India has recognized the need for producing operating systems in Indian languages to drive the smartphone revolution in rural areas. The startup which  appears to be taking the lead in this regard is Mumbai-based Firstouch, which recently unveiled a plan of collaboration with the Department of Electronics and IT(DeitY) for the introduction of text-to-speech technology in regional languages.

Details of the Firstouch initiative, and about related ones

Firstouch, founded by Rakesh Deshmukh,Akash Dongre and Sudhir B, seeks to spearhead smartphone penetration in Tier 2 and 3 cities in this way. This tie-up seeks to add 300 million consumers to the internet from these cities over the next 5 years. The startup has also played a key role in the simplification of phone interfaces in the recent past. These Firstouch OS enabled smartphone devices will all be priced under INR 10,000, in order to benefit the market in these smaller cities and rural areas. DeitY-a part of the Ministry of Communications and IT-has also played a stellar role in this regard, driving smartphone and broader technological penetration in these areas through Technology Development of Indian Languages(TDIL) and other programmes. The DeitY-funded TTS initiative has allowed the likes of IIT Madras to develop 9 language TTS systems. The overall consortium includes partners from CADCs, IITs and other engineering institutes. Firstouch’s collaboration was a result of an MOU developed between IIT Madras and OSLabs Technology India Pvt. Ltd.


The Firstouch OS already has over 2 million smartphone users, and the long-term goal is to reach 100 million by 2018. Firstouch claims to be wanting to develop India’s “Android” through this and other initiatives. Among these is its excellent SDK, which allows developers to integrate and build more localized apps. Firstouch’s emphasis on the use of innovative technology to drive forward rural smartphone use is guaranteed to reap rich dividends in the near future.

For more info, one can visit the startup’s website.