Voice services

Although many high end projects have been launched in the field of ICT4D, most of the people still can be reached through established media such as radio, television or the basic mobile phone functions – SMS and voice calls. Therefore it doesn’t surprise me that some of the most successful projects in ICT4D (FrontlineSMS, Ushahidi, Tradenet, …) rely on these basic features (mostly SMS) for the front end.

An idea of mine which appeared in the course of writing my thesis was to provide updated information from the internet on a telephone number. Me and my colleagues David Hauer and Andreas Hornich wrote the prototype NoisR which uses the service Podlinez for this purpose. Right now, my colleagues work on expanding this prototype with some new features, I’m curious what will be the outcome.

Recently I’ve come across several other projects with a quite similar approach – to provide information from the internet in an audible representation accessible by phone. Or to just provide functionality of the internet for people without internet and computer.

One project was just recently launched by fellow blogger Drew CogbillPigeon.

In his own words:

“Pigeon is a social network that you access through a phone call.  Pigeon gives you one voice message that lasts one minute to tell your world what’s up.  You can think of your Pigeon message as a voice status update, an audio micro-blog, or space for citizen journalism.”

He even uploaded a short video on youtube to demonstrate the functions and now invites everybody to try out the service. Several tools which work quite alike are listed in another blog post of his.

Another service I have an eye on already a while, is Mosoko. It tries to provide functions similar to Craigslist, only by voice.

I really think these projects have potential, also keeping in mind the high rates of illiteracy in lesser developed countries which inhibit access to information represented in written form. Furthermore, as already mentioned, the access to mobile phones is increasingly given, whereas the access to computers and internet is not – I am wondering if there are also successful initiatives which combine the internet with radio, which is an even more popular ICT.

Tags: , , ,
Voice services
was published on 20.11.2008 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
No Comments AddThis Feed Button

Comments are closed.