Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Talking Machine from Literacy Bridge

At this year's Foo camp, I attended a session led by Literacy Bridge founder Cliff Schmidt. Cliff demoed the Talking Book, a device they developed after extensive research in Africa:

Aid workers and NGO's working in the developing world have information spanning many topics (best practices and tips in areas like health, agriculture, education, etc.), that could dramatically improve the lives of residents in many remote areas. Areas where cell phone and other communications technologies are unavailable and/or are unaffordable, tend to coincide with lower literacy rates. Valuable information thus gets forgotten and never used.

The Talking Machine is a recording device with an intuitive user interface and navigation model. It's like going though directory assistance, with fewer buttons. The idea is that the devices come with pre-recorded relevant tips and information for local residents. The recording capability means the content can be easily updated. To pass useful content between Talking Machines, two devices can be easily hooked up together.

Craig mentioned a few success stories as well as challenges. He highlighted a small sample statistical study they conducted where a group of farmers in Africa who used the device ended up increasing their yield by over 40%!


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