Mobile phones have become part of our lives without which most of us feel handicapped. They are no more just voice based phones but mini computers and PDAs which provide lots of information in textual form in various languages. These devices have smaller display areas as compared to PCs and laptops and hence possess tremendous amount of challenges for the text to be read quickly and properly.
Unfortunately, while most of the device manufacturers in the world focus a lot on adding features like cameras, image processing, video player, gaming and other applications, the prime necessity of quality typography for language solutions are ignored. This has created a vacuum to do justice to several languages of the world from the usage point of view.
Indian subcontinent with a population of 1.3 billion has 1 billion mobile phone subscribers, one of the largest market in the world. Number of smartphone users has crossed more than 300 million till date with a projection of about 450 million (approx.) in 2020. However, a large chunk of Indian population still hails from small and mid-sized cities and rural areas where feature or basic phones are used by majority forming approximately 59% of the overall market.
In India, people use at least 22 languages on a daily basis. They are — Hindi, Marathi, Assamese, Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati, Odia, Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Bodo, Dogri, Manipuri, Nepali, Kashmiri, Urdu, Sindhi,Konkani, Maithili and Santhali.
Since most of the mobile devices provide Latin based solutions, country like India having a huge market and one of the largest mobile users in the world, find extreme difficulties to access text in their native languages.
In addition to that some Indian languages like Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali are among the most widely spoken languages across the globe and still do not have proper display solutions on the digital medium. Access to content in native languages is a need as many users are not well versed with English as the language of communication in India.
To address this issue, Indian government has also mandated local language support in all the mobile devices to facilitate users in their mother tongue to make effective use of mobile devices. Therefore this has become a responsibility for phone manufacturers, developers, language R&D organizations to provide best quality and error free display solutions in Indian languages in all mobile phones and other digital mediums as one of the primary requirements.
Back in the year 2011 Qualcomm, one of the biggest chip manufacturers of mobile phones bought Reverie’s font solutions for two languages — Hindi and Arabic for Qualcomm powered devices. Reverie provided Hindi and Arabic language font and rendering solutions which were integrated in the Qualcomm Reference Design (QRD).
These fonts were specially designed for mobile devices to deliver clarity, legibility and high level of aesthetics for complex scripts at the same time delivering rich user experience. Qualcomm and several OEMs used Reverie’s font and rendering solutions for all other Indic languages.
Since then we have powered both smart and feature phones with our Indic language solutions.
So what makes Reverie fonts delight users?
Let’s have a look at a little bit of history.
Indian scripts unlike Roman are complex in nature. Most Indian scripts are based on ancient Brahmi script and written from left to right. Members of the Perso-Arabic family of scripts like Urdu, Sindhi, Kashmiri are written from right to left. Each Indian language is associated with a complex script system and have multi-tier structure.
Back in 80s, font technology evolved from fixed size to Type 1 to TrueType fonts in order to have required control and precision on typography for digital mediums on different devices and platforms. Apple and Microsoft provided font support in Mac and Windows operating systems with WYSIWYG.
TrueType fonts became popular because of its flexibility for display on native/web applications and printing. Several fonts in Latin scripts were made available to the users by Apple, Microsoft, Adobe and few other font manufactures. However, there was a dearth of availability of Indian language fonts.
Indian Script Code for Information Interchange (ISCII) was developed by Department of Electronics (DoE), Govt. of India for Indic language processing. ISCII compiled with ISO 8-bit code recommendations and with further enhancement in the year 1991, it was released by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and eventually became the de facto standard for Indian language data processing.
To complement ISCII, the Indian Script Font Code (ISFOC) standard was designed for diﬀerent Indian scripts by S K Mohanty, who then served as the founding member of Fonts Lab in the Center for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC). He is presently the co-founder of Reverie Language Technologies Limited. ISFOC was used for aesthetic rendering of Indian languages.
Based on ISFOC standards, some TrueType and fixed size fonts were also designed in different Indian scripts, which were used in digital publishing industry across the country during 1990’s and onwards. ISFOC was designed as a set of glyphs for each Indic script with a focus to provide consistency and aesthetic rendering of concerned languages on any digital medium including low cost dot-matrix printers. Such a solution was first of its kind for Indian industry.
With the widespread use of desktop computers, laptops and mobile phones, font and encoding technology further underwent enhancement which gave rise to Unicode encoding supported by OpenType font technology. This was to provide uniformity, flexibility and richer experience of world scripts on multi platforms and across devices.
With the rapid growth of technologies and product development, the primary focus was always on the European languages or languages based on Roman scripts. This created a void for Indian language technologies and solutions when mobile devices became popular in the industry.
Reverie, being based in India and with expertise in language technologies took up this challenge to develop technologies, products and solutions for all Indian languages as well as several world languages.
As a basic and first requirement, Reverie designed standards and developed high quality fonts and rendering solutions for different Indian languages for Smartphones, low cost Feature phones, PCs, laptops, TVs, LED displays and PDAs.
To design a functional font with high level of aesthetics is often a judicious blend of design, technology and experience. Unfortunately, no tool or technology ensures font quality. Therefore, we see very few good fonts in the market.
With Reverie’s expertise and experience in handling complex Indian scripts, we provide the best fonts and display solutions in the industry making the Smartphones and Feature phones more functional.
Reverie’s Indian language display solution has received Manthan Award 2012 for South Asia & Asia-Pacific (winner) in the E-localization category.
Reverie in half a billion devices:
A font if illegible and devoid of good quality, deprives the user of text consumption. Reverie fonts have high level of aesthetics and clarity with 100% accuracy in syllable rendering. This makes a language come alive. Therefore, this function not only contributes to rich user experience but also enhances the product quality and acceptability.
All the Reverie fonts are designed as per international standard with a special focus to simplify the complexities of scripts without compromising the traditional aspects of concerned scripts.
Lot of thoughts have gone into the standardization of character and glyph sets of various scripts which ensure compactness and adaptability with current and future technologies. Therefore, our solutions have low memory footprint.
Presently, Reverie is the only company in the industry that provides all 22 Indian language display solutions for Feature phones as well as Smartphones with multi-lingual input solutions. Such solutions are a need for rural India which relies heavily on Feature phones.
The power of our fonts and rendering have attracted many phone manufacturers and chipset makers. Qualcomm has been powering devices with our language solutions since the day they first integrated Hindi and Arabic in QRD.
Similarly, other leading chipset makers like RDA Microelectronics and Spreadtrum are using Reverie’s fixed size fonts at the chip level for feature phones.
OEM market leaders like Sony, Panasonic, Micromax, Intex, Karbonn, Zen, Ziox iBall, Lava, WHAM, HSL and Celkon are using our solutions both for smartphones and feature phones making Reverie support half a billion devices.
Reverie fonts are proven for the consumption of large volume of text by the user. These fonts facilitate reading of newspapers or websites on the tiny mobile devices which gives better ease in reading than from a printed document.
Therefore, Reverie fonts are highly recommended for digital devices, applications, digital books and publications which use multilingual text for richer user experience.
At Reverie, massive amount of work is done towards creating stronger platform for digital innovation for nurturing various multilingual technologies and products. Today, our Indic fonts and rendering solutions are the best in the industry.
Funded by Aspada and Qualcomm, Reverie is deeply committed to provide best user experience for language technology products and services for world languages.
[Part 1] To be continued…