Call for Papers

Introduction

With the ubiquity of mobile phones, even in the poorest regions of developing countries, it is clear that now, and in the near future, these platforms will be the most influential platforms for ICT solutions in developing countries. Understandably, a good proportion of the work in HCI4D and ICT4D has focused on the technologically lowest common denominators to reach as many people as possible. Yet, there is also a need to look ahead to a near future that promises the widespread usage of increasingly sophisticated mobile devices. This trend is exemplified by the affordability of the so-called “low end smartphones” such as the IDEOS Android handset, which at the time of writing retails for ~US$60 in Kenya. Besides the increased processing power, memory and storage capability these devices feature a range of built-in sensors which opens new means of interaction.

HCI research efforts in the developed world have spawned a new wave of mobile interaction forms and user interfaces based on embedded sensor and signal processing technology that will soon be economically available to people in developing regions. This has included context-awareness such as location, orientation and proximity; image recognition, augmented reality and geo-tagged information; and speech and language systems. Yet there is currently a limited research focus on how these can be made appropriately available improve mobile ICT solutions in the developing world.

This workshop aims at identifying and discussing these new possibilities and matching them with existing unsolved problems. In doing so, we will create a roadmap for HCI research on how to proceed so that technological advances will also have a sustainable impact in the developing world.

HCI Challenges

When designing and implementing mobile solutions for developing countries, the interaction designers must consider a wide range of challenges beyond the technical issues, such as:

  • Illiteracy or semi-illiteracy among users.
  • Low computer literacy, i.e. no or highly limited knowledge prior knowledge of computer interfaces and established metaphors and paradigms like folders, drop down menus.
  • Language barriers and dialects.
  • Physical impairment of users.
  • Social and cultural differences resulting in different mental models and patterns.
  • Economic constraints.

By creating more natural ways of interacting with mobile computers, we can lower the technical threshold and overcome semi-illiteracy for people in these places, and thus make new ICT solutions available to people for development in healthcare, education, conservation of indigenous knowledge, mobile banking, etc.

These questions are timely. By focusing now on how the next wave of technology can address these challenges as it is becoming cheaper and increasingly available for developing regions, we will be better equipped to design, implement and deploy useful and usable applications and services when the technology reaches the intended users.

Topics

The workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners within HCI working on novel interaction and interfaces with those focusing on mobile innovations for developing countries. We aim to gather participants working in a broad range of developing countries. The topics and questions to be addressed in the workshop include:

  • Emerging technologies for mobile handsets that will gain widespread usage in developing countries in the near future
  • New interaction forms making use of interface gestures, gestures, speech recognition and synthesis, image recognition, augmented reality, location, orientation, proximity, geo-tagged information, and multimodal approaches.
  • Interaction techniques that acknowledge proximity of devices allowing the creation of ad-hoc services to support isolated communities.
  • New interaction metaphors and appropriation of previously proposed frameworks such as “magic wands” and data lenses.
  • Methodologies and techniques for designing and evaluating novel interfaces appropriated for developing world contexts.
  • New or improved applications and services for development that can be enabled through new interaction forms and interfaces within e.g. healthcare, education, payment and microfinance, indigenous knowledge conservation and environmental awareness.

Submission

We are looking for position papers and reports of research work addressing the themes of the workshop. Papers should be in the CHI Extended Abstract format and be between 4-6 pages in length. All papers will be reviewed by the organisers and additional external reviewers as necessary.

Please send a PDF of your submission to Kasper by January 13th 2012 January 23rd 2012.