Designers of interactive systems meet many unique challenges when working with developing communities. For instance, the standard techniques and methods of HCI often break down when faced with the variety of contexts and constraints of emerging markets in the developing world. HCI research in TEM seeks to understand: 1) How technology is used by and on behalf of people in a wide range of developing communities; and 2) How to design and evaluate systems that address their needs and desires.
UIs for low-literate users
Can we design UIs such that any first-time, low-literate user on first interaction with a PC or a mobile phone is able to recognize useful interaction with minimal or no assistance? TEM research includes work in:
- Text-Free UIs: Design principles for UIs that instead of text, use a combination of hand-drawn graphics, audio output, full-context video and other features. Applications of study include mobile money transfer, health information dissemination, and job-search for domestic labor.
- VideoKheti: A multimodal video search system for low-literate farmers that combines local language speech, graphics and touch interaction to help find and watch agriculture extension videos. Video.
- Cognition and Low-Literacy: Low-literacy is not just about the inability to read, but seems to be correlated with a host of cognitive skills. This research examines the implications for UI design with respect to these skills.
Mobile data collection
In rural settings within developing countries all written records are maintained on paper forms, which take a long time to aggregate and process data, resulting in corresponding delays in remedial action. TEM has conducted research in:
- Digital Slate: A low-cost digitizing slate that directly accepts handwritten input on ordinary paper notebooks, and provides immediate electronic feedback on the display of the device. Along with the paper record, this simultaneously generates a digital record of the data thereby improving data timeliness.
- CommCare: A case study on dimagi’s mobile phone-based data collection and record management system deployed through a three-month unsupervised field trial with health workers in rural Madhya Pradesh, India.
Voice interfaces hold significant potential to increase access to information services among low-income, low-literate communities by overcoming cost and literacy barriers posed by PCs. TEM research in voice interactions include:
- CGNet Swara: A voice-based citizen journalism portal, freely accessible via mobile phones, that allows anyone to report and listen to stories of local interest in the central Gondwana region of India.
- IVR Junction: Given the potential of voice interfaces numerous organizations are actively seeking to establish their own phone-based voice applications across different domains. IVR Junction is a free and open-source system that simplifies the building of scalable Interactive Voice Response forums.
- Miscellaneous: Other research in voice interactions includes a study comparing the accuracy, speed, and cost of an IVR survey relative to a live operator. Related publication here.
Other HCI projects
- Demand characteristics: TEM has conducted research in measuring participant response bias due to interviewer demand characteristics and the role of social and demographic factors in inﬂuencing that bias.
- mClerk: A platform for mobile crowdsourcing in developing regions where tasks are sent and received via SMS, making it accessible to anyone with a low-end mobile phone.
- Indrani Medhi, Kentaro Toyama, Anirudha Joshi, Uday Athavankar, and Edward Cutrell, A comparison of list vs. hierarchical UIs on mobile phones for non-literate users, Interact: 14th IFIP TC13 Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, September 2013
- Aditya Vashistha, Ed Cutrell, and Bill Thies, Mapping Interactive Voice Response Call Data in Developing Regions, ACM CHI 2013 Workshop on Geographic Human-Computer Interaction, May 2013
- Andrew Cross, Mydhili Bayyapunedi, Edward Cutrell, Anant Agarwal, and William Thies, TypeRighting: Combining the Benefits of Handwriting and Typeface in Online Educational Videos, 29 April 2013
- Indrani Medhi, Meera Lakshmanan, Kentaro Toyama, and Edward Cutrell, Some Evidence for Impact of Limited Education on Hierarchical User Interface Navigation, ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, April 2013
- Sebastien Cuendet, Indrani Medhi, Kalika Bali, and Edward Cutrell, VideoKheti: Making video content accessible to low-literate and novice users, ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, April 2013
- Ted McCarthy, Joyojeet Pal, and Edward Cutrell, The “voice” has it: screen reader adoption and switching behavior among vision impaired persons in India, in Assistive Technology: The Official Journal of RESNA, Taylor & Francis, 27 February 2013
- Pranav Ramkrishnan, Aditya Vashistha, Ed Cutrell, and Bill Thies, DocTalk: Extending Doctors' Reach with Personalized Voice Messages, ACM Symposium on Computing for Development (ACM DEV), January 2013
- Dipanjan Chakraborty, Indrani Medhi, Edward Cutrell, and William Thies, Man versus Machine: Evaluating IVR versus a Live Operator for Phone Surveys in India, ACM Symposium on Computing for Development (ACM DEV), January 2013
- Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch, Jonathan Donner, and Edward Cutrell, How Bad is Good Enough? Exploring Mobile Video Quality Trade-offs for Bandwidth-Constrained Consumers, in Proc NordiCHI 2012, ACM, 15 October 2012
- Andrew Cross, Edward Cutrell, and William Thies, Low-cost audience polling using computer vision, UIST, 7 October 2012
- Indrani Medhi, S. Raghu Menon, Edward Cutrell, and Kentaro Toyama, Correlation between Limited Education and Transfer of Learning, in Information Technologies and International Development, vol. 8, pp. 51-65, June 2012
- Nicola Dell, Vidya Vaidyanathan, Indrani Medhi, Edward Cutrell, and William Thies, "Yours is better!" Participant Response Bias in HCI, in CHI 2012: Proceedings of the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, May 2012
- Nithya Sambasivan and Edward Cutrell, Understanding negotiation in airtime sharing in low-income microenterprises, in CHI 2012: Proceedings of the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM Conference on Computer-Human Interaction, May 2012
- Aakar Gupta, William Thies, Edward Cutrell, and Ravin Balakrishnan, mClerk: Enabling mobile crowdsourcing in developing regions, in CHI 2012: Proceedings of the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM Conference on Computer-Human Interaction, May 2012
- Gary Marsden, Edward Cutrell, Matt Jones, Amit A. Nanavati, and Nitendra Rajput, Making technology invisible in the developing world, in Computer, IEEE, 2012
- Indrani Medhi, Anuj Tewari, Mohit Jain, and Edward Cutrell, The Fate of a Digital Slate: Unexpected Issues with Deployment in Rural India, in User Experience Magazine, vol. 11, 2012
- Indrani Medhi, Mohit Jain, Anuj Tewari, Mohini Bhavsar, Michael Matheke-Fischer, and Edward Cutrell, Combating Rural Child Malnutrition through Inexpensive Mobile Phones, Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, 2012
- Ted McCarthy, Joyojeet Pal, Edward Cutrell, and Tanvi Marballi, An analysis of screen reader use in India, in Proceedings of ICTD 2012, the 5th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development , ACM, 2012
- Indrani Medhi, Somani Patnaik, Emma Brunskill, S.N. Nagasena Gautama, William Thies, and Kentaro Toyama, Designing Mobile Interfaces for Novice and Low-Literacy Users, in ACM ToCHI, vol. 18, no. 1, ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, April 2011
- Saurabh Panjwani, Abhinav Uppal, and Edward Cutrell, Script-agnostic reflow of text in document images, in MobileHCI 2011: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Human Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services, ACM, New York, NY, USA, 2011
- Akhil Mathur, Divya Ramachandran, Edward Cutrell, and Ravin Balakrishnan, An exploratory study on the use of camera phones and pico projectors in rural India, in MobileHCI 2011: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Human Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services, ACM, New York, NY, USA, 2011
- Edward Cutrell, Context and design in ICT for global development, in UN Chronicle. United Nations in a united world., United Nations, 2011
- Azarias Reda, Saurabh Panjwani, and Edward Cutrell, Hyke: a low-cost remote attendance tracking system for developing regions, in Proceedings of the 5th ACM workshop on Networked systems for developing regions, ACM, New York, NY, USA, 2011
- Edward Cutrell, Technology for emerging markets at MSR india, in CSCW 2011: Proceedings of the ACM 2011 conference on Computer supported cooperative work, ACM, New York, NY, USA, 2011
- Azarias Reda, Edward Cutrell, and Brian Noble, Towards improved web acceleration: leveraging the personal web, in NSDR 2011: Proceedings of the 5th ACM workshop on Networked systems for developing regions, ACM, New York, NY, USA, 2011