A recently patented keyboard with comfortable positioning of Kazakh letters will be produced in Almaty and is expected by the end of the year, according to project curator Medet Turgambayev.
The inventors are Dias Zhunisbekov and Yergali Adambayev, students at the International Information Technologies University (IITU). The keyboard is currently made in small batches in Chinese factories and they have been searching for a means to transfer production to Kazakhstan.
“Currently, the workflow in the state (Kazakh) and Russian languages is on the same level,” said Turgambayev, IITU financial and commercial director. “We intend to supply the keyboard not only to schools, but also national companies.”
The specific letters of the Kazakh language are usually located on the edges of a Cyrillic keyboard, whereas the new arrangement places them closer to the centre for easier accessibility.
Turgambaev noted that the project needs to buy the necessary equipment for keyboard production. The developers intend to produce them at the Alatau Park of Innovative Technologies, a special economic zone in Almaty.
Almost all the 3,000 pilot keyboards have already been distributed to schools in Kazakhstan, said Turgambayev. Positive feedback about the gadget will allow the inventors to apply to the National Agency for Technological Development (NATD) for grant funding.
“Work is being done on obtaining orders. This is at the level of government, so we can equip all schools in Kazakhstan with this keyboard,” said the curator.
The patent for the students’ invention is protected in Kazakhstan, as well as all Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries. Documents are currently being prepared and an application for funding and the commercialisation of the project will be submitted in May, said Turgambayev.
“It is an on-going process. We need to fill out a large number of papers and collect a number of documents. We have other projects as well, so we will submit all the documents at once. The NATD is not yet accepting applications but I think that in April-May we will submit an application,” he added.
Moving production from China to Alatau will eliminate the necessity of minimum orders, for once production begins the devices will be released as needed. Manufacturing in the country will lead to self-sufficiency, as there will be no need to spend money on transportation and customs duties, which currently represent about 10 percent of the cost. Local production will also allow the institute to enjoy the tax benefits of the innovative technologies park,” said Turgambayev.
“Therefore, it would be beneficial to us as producers and it will be reflected in the final value of the goods. If we receive a grant, we can set up domestic production of the keyboard by the end of this year,” he added.