Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Modular Cell Phones

Over the summer, Derek envisioned what he thought was a brilliant idea. The marriage between a cellular communications device and other everyday products (car, computer, toasters). It was a neat thought, but one that we thought would be hard to get OEMs to buy into. I mean, they all want us to buy the traditional brick/flip phones right?

Well, it looks like a company has finally come up with something similar. The Modu has the ability to plug into your car, computer, MP3 player, and serve as an interesting bridge between communication and other technologies we like to associate ourselves with. I think it'll be out by October, and I'll definitely keep an eye out on how this new form factor will do.

Monday, March 10, 2008

$15 Computer in India

From TV Computer
Ok, I finally went in and bought one of the 'TV Computers' that I've seen being sold on the streets on India. I never thought they would actually work, because they are so unbelievably cheap--rs500 or $12.50, and they come with a keyboard, mouse, light gun, two game controllers, and two game cartridges.

But guess what? It works! And I'm amazed at the capability. There is a word processor, a music composer, typing training, even a BASIC programming shell!

I like that it plugs into the TV, because it makes 'computing' fundamentally more social (even family oriented) than a laptop or even PC. And since nearly half of all Indian households have a television, there is a great potentially market. The funny thing is that a lot of the Srishti Design students who saw me playing with this used to have one themselves, several years ago. Back then, this cost nearly rs3000 ($75).

So take a look at this, and let me know what you think. Might this be a viable ICT4D technology??

TV Computer

Sunday, March 9, 2008

$27 New TV

Ok, it's black and white, but this helps explain why half of all Indian households own a television!

There are about 25 channels, it seems, even without cable. And Indian Cable... sooo many channels.

No Craigslist

Well, there is a craigslist in Bangalore, but this works too.

These types of public postings are very common. Seems to me that a mobile phone based job-listing would be far more successful than a web-based listing. There are quite a few India-centric job sites...

There are some SMS services offered by Monster, but that's all I know of.

Solar Power Flashlight

Seems to me there used to be a joke about solar powered flashlights.... This one was about $5, and not that powerful. Now, if this could be used to charge a cell phone, that might be worth buying....

SP Road 'BOP' Designs

Visited SP Road, which is the biggest electronics market in Bangalore. It is very similar to Lamington Road in Bombay, in the way that you might see a bullock cart delivering DVD players and such. With my friend Saurabh from MS research, we came across some really interesting 'bottom of the pyramid' technologies. Battery powered lighting was probably the most interesting set of innovations. The LED flashlight above is only 3 dollars and provides over 240 hours (ten days) of light per charge. When it is out of juice, simply plug it into the wall. Furthermore, there is a + - power outlet on the flashlight, that appears to be used for charging some cell phones. If so, that's brilliant design!

There were also a number of rechargable-battery-powered Florescent lighting solutions, some for as little as 5 dollars. This is so important, because 'load shedding' affects most households in India. Load shedding is a temporary power cut resulting from more electrical demand than supply (India's demand is estimated to be nearly 1/3 higher than supply!). The rich can purchase UPS systems (Uninterrupted Power Supplies), which cost upwards of $250. However, many seemed happy to buy 6 volt batteries and DC/AC adapters--which might sell for as little as $5.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Sunglasses Video

I added some music, because the glasses do not record sound. Be sure to look about .5 the way through the video...... The first half is a market in Mysore. The second half is inside a rickshaw in Delhi, when a crowd of street kids approach us...

Perhaps why the motofone failed

Perhaps why the famous F3 Motofone failed: you can hardly see it in the dark! I was staying with a family in Madekeri, and they had one of these super affordable phones... They did not like the phone. Some reasons include the fact that "it bends" when you walk, if you keep it in your pocket--and that the text is very difficult to read. It also seemed rather difficult to use. Dixit was trying to change the language, and I saw him struggle with it for 20 minutes, to no avail. Interesting!
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Mobile Media Distribution

this truck was driving around Coorg selling books. They play devotional music and people browse books and drink chai. Books are about $1 each.
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