IBM and IIT Bombay to Research Mobile Phone Interfaces

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IBM said on Wednesday that it has included the Industrial Design Centre (IDC) at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT Bombay) to participate in its ongoing research into mobile phone interfaces.

The research aims at developing mobile device interfaces that can be easily used by people who are semiliterate or illiterate, as well as individuals who have limited or no access to information technology, IBM said.

IIT Bombay is one of the top academic institutions in the country, and a number of technology companies, including Microsoft, do joint research with the institute.

IBM and IIT Bombay are researching mobile user interfaces as part of IBM's Open Collaborative Research program, that aims to promote innovation through research collaboration between universities and industry.

IBM announced in March that it is doing research on mobile access for the aged and the illiterate with the National Institute of Design (NID) in India and the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST) at the University of Tokyo.

The company decided to do the research in these two countries as Japan has a large aging population, which is not comfortable working with technology, while India has a large illiterate population. IBM has research labs in both countries.

About 30 students of NID have already spread out into villages in a number of states in India to collect information on what would be required for a mobile phone to be accessible to illiterate people, and to people speaking languages other than English, a spokesman for IBM Research India said on Wednesday.

NID will be working on analyzing the device interface requirement from the perspective of users' requirement, as they have expertise in the area, while IIT Bombay will look into the systems design of the interface, the spokesman said.

The findings of the research and any applications or technology developed are to be released to the open source community, the spokesman said. 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, IBM said in March.

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