IBM will research mobile access for the aged and illiterate

It is collaborating for the research with academic institutions in India and Japan

IBM is teaming with researchers in academic institutions in Japan and India to explore an open, common user interface for mobile devices that will make them easier for aged or illiterate people around the world to use.

The company is doing the research with the National Institute of Design (NID) in India and the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST) at the University of Tokyo, it said Tuesday.

The findings of the research and any applications or technology developed will be released to the open-source community, said Nitendra Rajput, Open Collaborative Research lead at IBM Research India. IBM's Open Collaborative Research program aims to promote innovation through research collaboration between universities and industry.

Working with the open-source community will help speed up the adoption of the technologies, and attract developers to build applications for the target populations, Rajput added.

The research is focused on improving access to the mobile phone because of the affordability and proliferation of these devices, Rajput said. The researchers expect that the mobile phone rather than the PC will be the key device by which the aged and the illiterate will access IT because of its relative simplicity of use.

The company decided to do the research in these two countries as Japan has a large aging population, while India has a large illiterate population, Rajput said. IBM has research labs in both countries.

A large number of people in India are not significant users of IT because they cannot afford PCs, and because they are illiterate, according to Rajput. The aged in Japan may be able to afford IT, but they are not comfortable with complex interfaces, he said.

The aim of the research is to find common points and differences in the response to IT by these two populations, and to work on a multimode interface that would perhaps be accessible by both categories, Rajput said.

The findings from these two countries will be extrapolated to other countries around the world that have similar characteristics, IBM said.

Most of the technologies to improve access to information through mobile phones are already available, but a lot of ethnographic field research needs to be done to find out which combination of technologies would be found useful by the two target groups -- the aged and the illiterate, Rajput said.

While voice would appear to be the most relevant technology for access to information on mobile phones for illiterate people, it may not be the best option when it comes to information like statistical tables or pictorial data, Rajput said.

IBM and partners are also looking at other ways to access information, including the use of images as an accessory to text and audio content. Information on pesticides could for example be presented to farmers with visuals such as a picture of the crop, he said.

The researchers also plan to use accelerometers to design interfaces that are more closely related to the physical environment. A number of mobile phones already use accelerometers for interface control.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags accessibilityIBMmobile

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?