May 04, 2017

Biometric, solar ATM being developed for rural India: Technology minister

BYPankaj Mishra

Tying in with India’s thrust on digitisation and paperless economy post demonetisation, a bio-solar ATM has been developed by Indian scientists for rural areas, Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan announced on Wednesday.
“After November 8, there was so much talk about digitisation. A team of scientists led by professor SP Gon Chaudhuri from Kolkata has designed a bio-solar ATM,” he told the media on the sidelines of the Department of a Science and Technology Conclave in Kolkata.
“It is in its final stage… maybe in the next two to three months it will be ready and certainly we will think of taking this technology out of the lab to the people,” he said.
Renewable energy expert Gon Chaudhuri unveiled a prototype of the machine, priced at around Rs 6 lakh — half of a conventional ATM — at the conclave.
The scientist said the ATM is biometric, touch-based device powered by solar rays.
“In rural areas, many still are not literate and power supply is erratic. To counter these issues, the ATM has been designed with a biometric identification system where one can touch the screen with his or her thumb and transact,” Gon Chaudhuri said.
Instead of showing numbers and alphabets, the ATM screen displays pictures of currency denominations.
“It displays pictures of Rs 2,000, Rs 500 and Rs 100 currency notes. The person transacting can select by looking at the picture and selecting it. Moreover, information about the person’s bank balance and the amount of money remaining after deduction, is provided via a headphone,” he explained.
He said the ministry has discussed the launch of two pilot prototypes in a rural bank.
“One machine will provide info in Hindi, while another in Bengali. This will be a testing phase after which a large-scale roll out could be possible in 2018. It could also be made portable,” Chaudhuri added.
Harsh Vardhan, who was also asked on the recent controversy over hacking of EVMs, said: “There are mechanisms to detect such incidences swiftly.”

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Pankaj Mishra is a writer of FactorDaily.