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Posts in category 'Mobile phone'

10 March 2012

Striving and Surviving: exploring the lives of women at the Base of the Pyramid

6690892257_dc2b5d7f29

On International Women’s Day, the GSMA mWomen Programme released a study called “Striving and Surviving – Exploring the Lives of Women at the Base of the Pyramid,” reports MobileActive.org.

Drawn from 2,500 interviews with women (aged 16-64 in both rural and urban areas) living on less that $2 a day in Egypt, India, Papua New Guinea, and Uganda, the report looks at how mobile technology influences the way women approach health, economic development, and family relationships, and what mobile operators can do to reach more low-income women.

The report is divided into three parts; part one looks at the social, cultural, and economic factors that women at the base of the economic pyramid face in their daily lives, part two looks at the role of mobile technology in their lives, and part three looks at how technology can be used to further reach low-income women.

Some of the statistics pulled from the report show that when asked what the key benefits of mobile would be: [quoted from report]

  • 80% reported being connected to friends and family
  • 58% said it would be useful in an emergency
  • 40% said it would cut down on travel time
  • 15% believed it would help them feel secure
  • 93% reported that mobile phones made them feel safer, while the same proportion particularly valued being connected to friends and family.
  • 41% reported that owning a mobile had helped them increase their income or their professional prospects
  • 85% of mobile owners reported a greater feeling of independence

The study found that despite general positive feelings toward mobile technology, there are many challenges to getting mobile technology into the hands of low-income women. Gender imbalances were a major issue, as although some women had access to mobile phones through friends or family, few owned their own mobile phone. Another major issue was technical ability, as “while 77% of BoP women have made a mobile phone call, only 37% have sent an SMS, regardless of literacy levels.” Among women who were surveyed, 22% who reported not wanting a mobile phone said their reason was because they would not know how to use it.

Other concerns women listed for using mobile phones were a lack of regular access to electricity to keep the phone charged, concerns about theft, and concerns about ownership and usage costs. Furthermore, family pressure was a large influence on women’s view of technology as the report states: “In addition to doubts about the cost/benefit analysis of mobile ownership, 64% of married women who do not wish to own handsets cited the disapproval of their husbands as a principle reason for not wanting to own a phone.”

“Striving and Surviving” also examines how mobile operators can increase their outreach to women at the base of the pyramid by addressing women’s concerns. By developing family plans and reaching out to male and female customers by highlighting security and family connectivity available through mobile technology, mobile operators can broaden their customer base while getting technology into the hands of women who need it.

An interesting aspect of the report is the Portraits series, a fictionalized account of eight women from the base of the pyramid who use mobile technology and explain how that technology fits into their everyday lives. The stories are interspersed throughout the final report, but are also collected in a separate paper called “Portraits: A Glimpse into the Lives of Women at the Base of the Pyramid.”

Although the accounts are fictionalized, they are drawn from the research that went into creating “Striving and Surviving – Exploring the Lives of Women at the Base of the Pyramid.” The reports look at the lives of everyday women and how they use and view mobile technology.

Because the data for the report is drawn from only four countries, the GSMA mWomen Programme has made all of the research tools used to create this report publicly available at www.mwomen.org to inspire further research.

Executive summary
Report download
Portrait series
Research tools

3 March 2012

Do m-health tools really work? Testing the impact of mobile technology on maternal and child healthcare

Mobile Pics 2-41

MobileActive has posted an in-depth new case study that focuses on evaluating mobile health interventions.

Written by Kate Otto, the case study looks at testing the efficacy of using mobile phones in health care in Ethiopia. A team of researchers from The World Bank and Addis Ababa University developed a mobile tool that enables rural community health workers to improve antenatal care and delivery services, improve vaccination coverage, and facilitate emergency referrals. The team is taking the evaluation process beyond the usual survey method and are instead rigorously testing the mobile phone effects through more rigorous research.

The researchers randomly selected three Ethiopian districts and applied the tool in three ways:

  • Treatment 1: All Health Extension Workers (HEW) received mobile phones equipped to perform the three use cases (improving antenal care/delivery, vaccination coverage, and emergency referrals).
  • Treatment 2: All HEWs and two Volunteer Community Health Workers (VCHW) within each district received mobile phones; HEW phones are software-equipped for the three use cases, while VCHWs received dumbphones intended to make missed calls only.
  • Control: No mobile phones distributed.

The test is on-going, but the results will be applicable to organizations that are considering deploying mobile tools into their work. The research is not looking at developing a scalable mobile tool, but is rather examining how mobile tools are used and how they compare to existing methods

Read case study

3 February 2012

Ethnography of mobile phone use in remote Mexican village

mobilehci2011

Tricia Wang of UCSD’s Department of Sociology and Barry Brown of the Mobile Life VINN Excellence Center Stockholm presented the paper “Ethnography of the telephone: Changing uses of communication technology in village life” at MobileHCI 2011.

Abstract

While mobile HCI has encompassed a range of devices and systems, telephone calls on cellphones remain the most prevalent contemporary form of mobile technology use. In this paper we document ethnographic work studying a remote Mexican village’s use of cellphones alongside conventional phones, shared phones and the Internet. While few homes in the village we studied have running water, many children have iPods and the Internet cafe in the closest town is heavily used to access YouTube, Wikipedia, and MSN messenger. Alongside cost, the Internet fits into the communication patterns and daily routines in a way that cellphones do not. We document the variety of communication strategies that balance cost, availability and complexity. Instead of finding that new technologies replace old, we find that different technologies co-exist, with fixed telephones co-existing with instant message, cellphones and shared community phones. The paper concludes by discussing how we can study mobile technology and design for settings defined by cost and infrastructure availability.

Download paper (alternate link)

(via MobileActive)

15 December 2011

Nokia foresight on the future of mobile design

Ager-wick

Sondre Ager-Wick, Nokia’s Head of Design Strategy and Foresight, discusses the evolution and future of mobile design.

His new trends:
– DIY design
– Electronically enhanced senses
– The smartification of everything
– Less digital bling. More content first.
– Getting serious about play

Read article

10 November 2011

GEM, Nokia’s new concept phone

GEM
Nokia releases a new phone concept – Gem – which “revolutionizes mobile design by turning the entire handset into a touchscreen”.

Launched on the 25th anniversary of the Nokia Research Centre, the GEM device changes appearance from camera to phone or map according to the function selected by the user. It could even display advertising messages on the back of the phone.

The back and front are also interactive, making it possible to pinch and zoom the rear of the phone while getting a constant clear view of the image on the front.

Read announcement (with concept video)

28 October 2011

Smartphones find niche in human behaviour tests

PLoS ONE
Researchers are using innovative tools to perform psychological experiments a lot faster than they used to.

Experts believe the number of smartphone users worldwide will top the 1 billion mark by 2013.

Now an international team of scientists has taken advantage of smartphone technology to examine the mental processes involved in how humans remember, think, speak and solve problems.

Presented in the journal PLoS ONE, the findings demonstrate how these tiny tools can dramatically change cognitive science research.

The study was funded in part by the O-CODE (‘Cracking the orthographic code’) project, which has clinched a European Research Council (ERC) grant worth EUR 2.2 million under the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

Read article

28 October 2011

BlackBerry Future Visions

BlackBerry future handset
Research in Motion seems to have commissioned a pair of videos envisioning portable technology in the not-so-distant future, writes PocketNow: specifically, they focus on interactions among employees, or between employees and customers, and how portable devices play a role in their day-to-day lives.

Chris Velazco on TechCrunch calls it “a refined extension of what we already have as opposed to a wild vision of what we could have.”

Watch videos (alternate link)

20 October 2011

Google’s ethnographic studies on device use

Matias Duarte
In a long interview, Matias Duarte, Android’s head of user experience, explains how Google conducted deep user ethnographic studies to understand how people were using their smartphones and other devices.

What is the soul of the new machine?

This isn’t a design or product question. It’s a philosophical question. What is this thing? What is it supposed to do? How will it do it? How do we get there? […]

This question sparked deep user studies at Google on mobile phone use, what Matias described as “Serious baseline ethnographic research which hadn’t happened before.” He tells me that the company spent a great deal of time and effort watching how and why regular people used their smartphones. Not just Android phones, but all smartphones. The company even had employees “shadow” users, visiting them at their homes and workplaces to watch how they interacted with their devices. Matias wouldn’t share numbers, but intimated that the study was a significant undertaking.

“A lot of what we found confirmed what I thought for years. At Danger, we had this idea that smartphones were not for a certain kind of person. They were for everyone. Smartphones were the way phones were supposed to be.”

“What we heard from everyone we talked to in the study was that they love these things [smartphones], they are a part of their lives. They’re incredibly passionate about them. They can’t live without them. That was awesome. But we also heard a lot of things we didn’t like to hear.”

“With Android, people were not responding emotionally, they weren’t forming emotional relationships with the product. They needed it, but they didn’t necessarily love it.”

Matias says that the studies showed that users felt empowered by their devices, but often found Android phones overly complex. That they needed to invest more time in learning the phones, more time in becoming an expert. The phones also made users feel more aware of their limitations — they knew there was more they could do with the device, but couldn’t figure out how to unlock that power.

Read interview

(summary article)

23 September 2011

Book: Mobile First

Mobile First
Mobile First
Luke Wroblewski
A Book Apart
October 2011

Abstract
Our industry’s long wait for the complete, strategic guide to mobile web design is finally over. Former Yahoo! design architect and co-creator of Bagcheck Luke Wroblewski knows more about mobile experience than the rest of us, and packs all he knows into this entertaining, to-the-point guidebook. Its data-driven strategies and battle tested techniques will make you a master of mobile—and improve your non-mobile design, too!

In a short review, Peter Morville writes:

“I devoured my advance copy of Mobile First in less than three hours. Not a second of that time was wasted. Luke has packed oodles of data, scads of examples, and years of experience into this admirably brief book. It’s a brilliant explanation of why we should design for mobile first, and how.

Every information architect and experience designer should read this book. It will change the way you work today and how you think about tomorrow. In short, Luke Wroblewski has gone big by going small. You should too!”

9 September 2011

Marko Ahtisaari: Patterns of Human Interaction (the Nokia N9 design video)

Marko Ahtisaari
Marko Ahtisaari is the global head of Nokia’s design unit, and he is responsible for Nokia’s product and user experience design.

During Copenhagen Design Week, Marko shared Nokia’s thoughts on how design will shape and influence the patterns of human interaction in the future at a Nokia event at Bella Sky Hotel.

He then discussed the design of the N9 smartphone, as an initial example of what Nokia is planning in the interaction design/user experience design of its upcoming phones.

Watch video

11 August 2011

Mobile Learning Toolkit published

Mobile Learning Toolkit
The mobile phone is now a ubiquitous item even among the world’s poorest, and in fact over 70% of the mobile phones on the planet are in developing countries.

With this in mind, a new Mobile Learning Toolkit has been launched to empower trainers in developing contexts to integrate mobile learning into their teaching.

The 98‐page toolkit contains 15 mobile learning methods divided into 4 categories that trainers can choose from depending on their needs – whether they’re looking deliver content; assign tasks; gather feedback; or provide support to their training participants.

These methods have been designed to be as inclusive as possible, with most requiring only low end devices (basic mobile phones with voice calling and SMS capability), allowing interactive learning experiences to be delivered right to the Base of the Pyramid.

In addition to the methods, an overview of mobile learning is included in the beginning of the guidebook and a set of practical tools that allow the methods to be immediately put into practice.

The Mobile Learning Toolkit was developed by the young designer Jenni Parker as part of her master thesis on Mobile Learning for Africa and during her internship with the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ITC‐ILO) of the United Nations in Italy (with some additional support by Experientia).

As well as a general guide, the toolkit includes recommendations for customising the methods for the delivery of a specific training course called “my.coop”, a programme currently being launched by the International Labour Organization to teach the principles of managing agricultural cooperatives in developing regions worldwide.

However, the Mobile Learning Toolkit has been designed to have a value not only within the context of this training programme, but for use in the delivery of all kinds of training within any developing context. Anyone can pick up the toolkit and be inspired to use mobile learning.

The toolkit is an open source resource that can be downloaded for free at http://jenniferparker.posterous.com/mobile-learning-toolkit.

6 August 2011

Insights from Research Magazine

Sofa
Four interesting articles in Research Magazine, a UK industry magazine.

This month we… browsed a virtual supermarket
Robert Bain explores a simulated supermarket used to research products and store designs.

Behind the sofa
Simon Lidington thinks researchers have forgotten the art of conversation. Turns out all you need is a sofa, a video camera and some cool interactive transcript technology to get people talking.

Slow down! You move too fast
Attempts to curb speeding on the roads usually involve a mix of scary messages and the threat of fines or driving bans. But behavioural economics is starting to be applied to this social issue in creative ways, says Crawford Hollingworth.

Mobile research: No time like the present
Jay Pluhar of research software and services provider MarketTools says that when it comes to adopting mobile research techniques, fortune will favour the brave.

29 July 2011

Good mobile experiences unfold and progressively reveal their nature

Topping in
Successful PC and mobile experiences are built on fundamentally different conceptual models and leverage different psychological functions of the user, argues Rachel Hinman. Understanding these differences will help you create better experiences for both contexts.

She delves into the matter in a longer article that acts as a preview for her forthcoming Rosenfeld Media book “The Mobile Frontier: A Guide for Designing Mobile Experiences“:

“The natural user interfaces (aka NUIs) found on most modern mobile devices are built on the psychological function of intuition. Instead of recognizing an action from a list, users must be able to sense from the presentation of the interface what is possible. Instead of “what you see is what you get” NUIs are about “what you do is what you get.” Users see their way through GUI experiences, and sense their way through NUI ones. Unlike GUI interfaces with minimal differentiation between interface elements, NUI interfaces typically have fewer options and there is more visual differentiation and hierarchy between the interface elements.”

Read article

17 July 2011

Smartphones could mean end of web

Smartphone
The proliferation of powerful mobile phones could see control of the internet pass into the hands of corporations, positions John Naughton in The Observer today.

“We are on the slippery slope towards a much more controlled, less open, internet. If these trends continue, then it won’t be all that long before a significant proportion of the world’s internet users will access the network, not via freely programmable PCs connected via landline networks, but through tethered, non-programmable information appliances (smartphones) hooked up to tightly controlled and regulated mobile networks. And if that happens then the world will have kissed goodbye to the internet’s revolutionary potential.”

Read article

13 July 2011

A wearable wristband to track health, fight obesity

Jawbone's Up
Jawbone announces Up, a wearable wristband to track health, fight obesity. A combination of a sensor-infused wristband and a smartphone app will provide nudges for healthier living, based on your behavior.

“Just an hour ago on stage at TED Global, Jawbone announced the grand project they’ve been quietly working on for years: A wearable band called Up, which is infused with sensors and connected to computer-based software, allowing you to track your eating, sleeping, and activity patterns. […]

The Up is intended to monitor your movement 24 hours a day. The connected, smartphone-based software will then be able to tell how much you’ve been sleeping and how much you’ve moved. Up will then combine that data with information about your meals, which you enter simply by taking pictures of using your smartphone camera. Then, the smartphone program will supply you with “nudges” that are meant to help you live healthier, day by day. For example, if you haven’t slept much, when you wake up the app might suggest a high-protein breakfast and an extra glass of water.”

Read article

13 July 2011

New handset, new life

New phone
The Mobile Work Life Project is a Ryerson university-based research project funded by the Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council. Its aim is to add to our current understanding of the now-ubiquitous use of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. The project is primarily an ethnographic investigation, taking an anthropological approach to understanding these devices and the roles they are already playing in our lives.

Sam Ladner, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, reports on some intermediate results:

“One of the key findings we’ve uncovered so far is that people tend to adopt new communication channels (e.g., text) when they purchase new handsets. This new handset/life change correlation is a symbolic ritual that leads to new ways of communicating. […]

People buy certain items to equip themselves for the new season, but also to symbolically mark the shift from one state to the next. There are practical reasons why one would purchase a new handset when one is moving house, for example, but there is also a deeply symbolic transformation taking place. […]

I have argued in the past that financial services providers should only ever look to life changes as triggers for new products. It’s clear that new products go hand in hand with new life events. In this case, new products and new life events correlate with new technology adoption.

Technology designers should consider what events are the triggers, and incorporate these symbolically into their mobile platforms.”

Read post

(More results on the Mobile Work Life Project blog)

26 June 2011

IBM reveals untapped mobile users of the future

IBM Health
Consumers have a growing appetite for health and wellness gadgets and this represents a burgeoning market opportunity for device manufacturers that has barely been tapped, according to a study from IBM.

“There’s a huge group of mobile users that you may be overlooking as you develop your hospital’s mobile strategy. They’re “information seekers,” and they will be the largest cohort of mobile healthcare consumers in the future, according to a new report by IBM, “The Future of Connected Health Devices.”

Traditional mHealth users are a small percentage of highly motivated individuals with significant fitness goals or debilitating chronic conditions. Both groups are willing to put in the time to learn and use smartphone apps, remote monitoring devices and other mobile health products, IBM’s researchers found in their study of more than 1,300 mobile health device users.

A far larger, but trickier-to-engage, group consists of “information seekers,” according to the study. These users may have one chronic condition, such as obesity or smoking, that doesn’t immediately threaten their health, but that they want help managing.”

Read article
Read press release
Download report

26 June 2011

Activate 2011: Technology powered by people

Activate 2011
Ken Banks, founder of kiwanja.net and FrontlineSMS, reports on how Activate 2011, the one-day conference in London on technology and development, made clear it’s not just about technology, but who uses it and how.

“As the day drew to a close, I was left with one lingering thought as I headed to catch my train home. Technology is most interesting when it’s powered by people, not the other way round. Let’s keep it that way.”

Read article

OTHER ACTIVATE 2011 CONTENT

Activate 2011: Mobiles look set to play a big role in Africa’s development
A race is on to find what mobiles can do in areas such as public health, governance and education as they are likely to be the only internet connection for most Africans for years to come

Hillary Clinton adviser compares internet to Che Guevara
Alec Ross says ‘dictatorships are now more vulnerable than ever’ due to protest movements on Facebook and Twitter

Video: World Bank Institute: We’re also the data bank
Aleem Walji, practice manager for innovation at the World Bank Institute, which assists and advises policy makers and NGOs, tells the Guardian’s Activate summit in London about the organisation’s commitment to open data.

Video: Google’s Africa policy manager: ‘Africans enjoy technology’
Ory Okolloh, Google’s policy manager for Africa and a Kenyan lawyer and activist, tells the Guardian’s Activate summit in London that Africans don’t view technology simply as a tool of development.

Video: Hillary Clinton adviser: internet weakens dictators
Speaking at the Guardian’s Activate 2011 conference in London, Alec Ross, Hillary Clinton’s senior adviser for innovation at the US state department, discusses the role of social media in the Arab Spring.

8 June 2011

WHO report on mHealth

mHealth
The World Health Organisation has just issued a major (free) report on mHealth, entitled “mHealth: New horizons for health through mobile technologies“.

Abstract
Only five years ago who would have imagined that today a woman in sub-Saharan Africa could use a mobile phone to access health information essential to bringing her pregnancy safely to term? Mobile phones are now the most widely used communication technology in the world. They continue to spread at an exponential rate – particularly in developing countries. This expansion provides unprecedented opportunities to apply mobile technology for health. How are mobile devices being used for health around the world? What diverse scenarios can mHealth be applied in and how effective are these approaches? What are the most important obstacles that countries face in implementing mHealth solutions? This publication includes a series of detailed case studies highlighting best practices in mHealth in different settings. The publication will be of particular interest to policymakers in health and information technology, as well as those in the mobile telecommunications and software development industries.

According to the Guardian, the reports “finds that 83% out of 122 countries surveyed use mobile phone technology for services that include free emergency calls, text messaging with pill reminders and health information and transmission of tests and lab results. Mobile health is already firmly established enough for the WHO to have set up a special unit five years ago, the Global Observatory for eHealth, staffed by four people in Geneva.”

26 May 2011

City as a platform

PSFK
Two talks from the 2011 PSFK conference caught my attention:

City as a platform (video)
In her role as Chief Digital Officer for the City of New York, Rachel Sterne is tasked with strengthening the City’s digital media presence and streamlining internal digital communications.
In her talk Sterne demonstrated recent innovations that are shaping the city’s future. Mentioning how city resident participation is crucial with a real-time approach, attendees were shown “The Daily Pothole,” a Tumblr that tracks the D.O.T.’s progress in filling potholes in the five boroughs and its companion app, the roll-out of QR code technology on building permits, the NYC 311 app, as well as fielding service requests via Twitter.

Industrial Design: ID For The City (alternate) (video)
Duncan Jackson and Eoin Billings (interview), are both partners at Billings Jackson, a design firm specializing in public spaces. They spoke about their work, history and how they bridge the gap between architecture and manufacturing. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, they appreciate and embrace the the urban landscape for what it is. Crafting solutions that interpret design vision in city environments is their forté and the duo explained the value in understanding the intricacies of each place, culture, and its residents before beginning a new project. Their approach is exemplified through their architectural work, with city life exuding from each structure rather then being blurred by it.

> Check also the video and PSFK report on the Microsoft Home of the Future.