HCIL Brown Bag: Designing Technology to Address the Needs and Aspirations of People in the World’s Developing Communities

Ed Cutrell, Technology for Emerging Markets (TEM) group
Microsoft Research India.

Thursday, Oct 3
12:30 – 1:30 pm
2117 Hornbake Bldg, South Wing
University of Maryland.

The Technology for Emerging Markets (TEM) group at Microsoft Research India seeks to address the needs and aspirations of people in the world’s developing communities. Our research targets people who are just beginning to use computing technologies and services as well as those for whom access to computing still remains largely out of reach. Most of our work falls under the rubric of the relatively young field of Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICTD or ICT4D). By combining a variety of backgrounds and training, we are able to engage deeply with some of the complex problems associated with poverty and scarce resources. Our goal is to study, design, build, and evaluate technologies and systems that are useful for people living in underserved rural and urban communities around the world. In this talk, I will give an overview of some of the recent work in the group, focusing on projects that explore modalities and interactions specifically designed for the unique contexts and users we’re working with:

1) VideoKheti: A prototype multimodal system to help low-literate farmers search for agricultural extension videos on smart phones.

2) IVR Junction: A platform for building scalable and distributed voice forums for users with low-end phones.

3) Massively Empowered Classrooms (MEC): A project to explore how innovations in MOOCs and blended learning can be applied to second-tier, large-scale engineering education in India.

4) Maybe something else, depending on the interests of the audience

Speaker Bio

Ed Cutrell manages the Technology for Emerging Markets (TEM) group at Microsoft Research India. Ed has been working in the field of human-computer interaction since 2000, studying everything from novel interaction techniques to interfaces for search and information retrieval. His current research focuses on Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D). The goal of this work is to understand how people in the world’s poor and developing communities interact with information technologies and to invent new ways for technology to meet their needs and aspirations. He is trained in cognitive neuropsychology, with a PhD from the University of Oregon.