mobile platform design

Designing an Architecture for Delivering Mobile Information Services to the Rural Developing World

Posted by MarkWeingarten on Jan 26, 2011
Designing an Architecture for Delivering Mobile Information Services to the Rural Developing World data sheet 1649 Views
Parikh, Tapan S.
Publication Date: 
Jan 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Populations in the rural developing world have just as many, if not more, information needs as people living in more affluent areas. But their constraints — intermittent power, intermittent connectivity, limited education, literacy and capital — make first-world approaches to accessing information systems inapplicable. Mobile phones are on the cusp of spurring an information revolution in such regions. Long battery life, wireless connectivity, solid-state memory, low price and immediate utility make this device better suited to rural conditions than a PC. However, current software on mobile phones makes them hard to use and to program.

In this dissertation, I present the design, implementation and evaluation of CAM — a mobile application framework designed to address the information needs of the rural developing world. Beginning with a two-month participatory design study, including users with varying levels of education, I propose some general guidelines for user interface and system design in this context. Motivated by these guidelines, I present CAM. CAM applications are accessed by capturing barcodes on paper forms using the mobile phone camera, or entering numeric strings with the keypad. Supporting one-step navigation, direct linkage to paper practices and offline multi-media interaction, CAM is uniquely adapted to rural device, user and infrastructure constraints. To demonstrate the usability of this framework, I implement and evaluate several distinct CAM-based applications (one of which has already been commercially deployed). I also provide preliminary motivation for fourteen other applications that could be implemented with the same, or similar, approach.