Indrani Mehdi is worthy of an Ada Lovelace Day tribute.
On 8 March 2010 at EmTech India 2010, the Emerging Technologies Conference held in Bengaluru, India, she was honored as a technological trendsetter. March 8th is, incidentally, International Women's Day, and Medhi was the only woman to be honored with inclusion in the India TR35 roll of honors. This is "a list of 20 promising young innovators under 35 handpicked by an eminent jury selected by Technology Review India."
Why did Medhi, an Associate Researcher at Microsoft Research India, receive this award? She received it for her work "in helping those who cannot read use mobile phones and PCs easily."
Here is an appetizer from a news article about Mehdi entitled Rewriting human-computer interaction handbook:
A student of design, Medhi has developed text-free user interfaces (UIs) to allow any illiterate or semi-literate person on first contact with a computer, to immediately know how to proceed with minimal or no assistance. As Medhi points out, in text-based conventional information architecture found in mobile phones and PCs, there are a number of usability challenges that semi literate people face. By using a combination of voice, video and graphics in an innovative way, Medhi has overcome this challenge. Medhi discovered the kind of barriers that illiterate populations face in using technology through an ethnographic design process involving more than 400 women from low-income, low-literate communities across India, the Philippines, and South Africa.
That article has more information about additional factors revealed in Mehdi's research such as cognitive issues and cultural etiquette. Do read it for a quick introduction.
Download a copy of Mehdi's paper entitled "A Comparison of Mobile Money-Transfer UIs for Non-Literate and Semi-Literate Users" (495 Kb .pdf).
Here is a brief slideshow of Mehdi's project (requires the Flash Player).
This slide show is also available on the EmTech site.
Happy Ada Lovelace Day 2010, Indrani Medhi! Namaste!
(PS Thank you to @PerBusch who discovered this news on @mobileactive and shared the tip on Twitter.)