22 July 2010

Questions for Microsoft Research’s Indrani Medhi

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Indrani Medhi, associate researcher in the Technology For Emerging Markets Group at Microsoft Research India, was recently rated one of the “50 smartest people in technology” in 2010 by Fortune Magazine.

In an interview with Arlene Chang of the India Real Time blog of the Wall Street Journal, Medhi talks about her passion for socio-economic development through technology, how it can improve the quality of life in rural India even for illiterate people, and “why she loves her job”.

“Through an ethnographic design process that comprised interviewing 400 research subjects from low-income, low-literate communities across India, the Philippines and South Africa and more than 450 hours spent in the field observing subjects in the natural contexts in which they live and work, I discovered that there were a number of usability challenges which people experienced while interacting with traditional text-based UIs, on both mobile phones and PCs.

Based on the broad lessons learned through this ethnography, design recommendations were developed for non-textual user interfaces for low-literate users that use combinations of voice, video and graphics. These principles have been applied to designing four applications – job-search for the informal labor market, health-information dissemination, a mobile money-transfer system and an electronic map.”

Read interview

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