Information Access Seminar

Designing Appropriate Computing Technologies for the Rural Developing World

Friday, March 7, 2008
3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Tapan Parikh

People living in the rural developing world have many information needs that could, but are not, being met by information technology. Technologies for this context must be low-cost, accessible to diverse populations and appropriate for the local infrastructure, including conditions of intermittent power and connectivity.

In this talk, drawing from the results of an extended design study conducted with microfinance group members in rural India (many of whom were semi-literate or illiterate), I outline a set of user interface design guidelines for accessibility to such users. The results are used to motivate the design of CAM, a mobile phone application toolkit including support for paper-based interaction; multimedia input and output; and disconnected operation. Through ekgaon technologies, a company that I co-founded, over 10,000 microfinance group members in India are now using CAM to maintain their monthly records. In Mexico, we are conducting a pilot where over 1,000 small coffee farmers will use CAM to document their compliance with organic certification requirements. I will also discuss some of the more recent directions I have been pursuing in collaboration with my students - including building mobile tools to improve the standard of health care delivery in sub-Saharan Africa, and designing farmer-centric information systems linking farmers to premium markets in South Asia.

Last updated:

March 26, 2015