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Designing Appropriate Computing Technologies for the Rural D

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Uploaded on Mar 5, 2008

Designing Appropriate Computing Technologies for the Rural Developing World
Tapan Parikh [Assistant Professor, School of Information, UC Berkeley]
Abstract:
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 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 with my students - including building mobile tools to improve the standard of health care delivery in sub-Saharan Africa, and designing information systems linking farmers to premium markets in South Asia.


Biography:
Tapan Parikh is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley. Tapan's research interests include human-computer interaction (HCI), user interfaces for semi-literate users, mobile computing and information systems for microfinance, smallholder agriculture and global health. For the past eight years, Tapan has been designing, developing and deploying information systems in the rural developing world - initially in Asia, and now also in Latin America and Africa. He holds a Sc.B. degree in Molecular Modeling from Brown University, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from the University of Washington. Tapan was named Technology Review magazine's Humanitarian of the Year in 2007.

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