Higher Education Technology Research

IBM Researching Mobile Device Accessibility with Universities

IBM will be working with two universities to explore the creation of an open, common user interface platform for mobile devices. The software developed by IBM, the National Institute of Design of India in Bangalore, and the University of Tokyo's RCAST, the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, will be made available as open source.

The new research partnership is part of the company's Collaborative Research Initiatives program. One of the goals of the most recent effort is to figure out how illiterate or elderly populations can use their mobile devices to exploit the information and services available to Internet users.

"Through this collaborative research initiative, we will uncover real information accessibility requirements and issues that the elderly and people in developing economies are facing today," said Chieko Asakawa, IBM Fellow and chief technology officer of IBM's accessibility research. "By focusing on mobile devices, which have a tremendous potential to empower them, we believe the findings will help us offer affordable services to a large population who are still deprived of access to key information sources."

"By bringing IBM's deep knowledge in mobile Web and [our] interface design and ethnological expertise, this initiative is aimed to develop inclusive technologies and help the underprivileged improve their lives," added Jignesh Khakhar of India's National Institute of Design.

IBM researchers in Tokyo and the human information engineering research team, led by Tohru Ifukube of the U Tokyo Research Center will focus their efforts on Japan's elderly population to investigate and determine real-life requirements of elderly people when using mobile devices.

"New technologies and various new services will continue to emerge, and mobile devices will become a window of opportunity for us to engage with information anytime anyplace," said Ifukube. "With IBM's expertise in accessibility technologies and mobile Web technologies, coupled with our expertise in five-senses communication and interface design expertise of [the National Institute of Design of India], we are looking forward to developing inclusive technologies for [the] elderly population to help improve quality of life."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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