TapBack: Towards Richer Mobile Interfaces in Impoverished Contexts

Much of the mobile work by HCI researchers explores a future world populated by high-end devices and relatively affluent users. In this work we turn to consider the hundreds of millions of people for whom such sophistication will not be realised for many years to come.

In developing world contexts, people continue to rely on voice-primary interactions due to both literacy and economic reasons. Our research here looks at how advanced mobile interface techniques could be enabled in these situations, while overcoming the handset, data-connection and user limitations.

As a first step we introduce TapBack: back-of-device taps to control a dialled-up, telephone-network-based voice service. These audio gestures are recognised over a standard telephone connection, via users’ existing low-end devices.

We made this interface available on a live voice service used by rural Indian farmers. Data from the study illustrates the desire by users to adopt the approach and its potential extensions.

In the paper, poster and video below we present the background, motivation, design and evaluation of these back-of-device inputs on users’ existing dumb-phones.



S. Robinson, N. Rajput, M. Jones, A. Jain, S. Sahay, A. Nanavati. TapBack: Towards Richer Mobile Interfaces in Impoverished Contexts. In CHI '11: Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 2733–2736. (Download paper (PDF)).

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