The explosive growth of mobile phone connectivity is lauded as an important driver of economic growth in less industrialized countries. In just one decade, the “mobile phone revolution” has put phones in the hands of almost 4 billion more people.
Now, farmers in far-flung areas with poor infrastructure can use their phones to trade and to check prices in different markets within seconds. Laborers can use their phones as virtual offices, enabling potential customers to contact them quickly and easily. People can even transfer money via SMS without using a bank account.
Cellphones are becoming even more powerful with HP Labs India’s recently unveiled SiteonMobile technology. SiteonMobile makes web content cellphone-friendly by compressing web interactions to “tasklets” controlled by SMS (or by voice).
Suppose you’re a hypochondriac and you’re constantly looking up different illnesses on WebMD because it’s the only source you trust.
A conceivable play-by-play of your search might look like this:
- Open browser.
- Type in http://www.webmd.com in the URL field
- Locate the “search” field on the WebMD website
- Enter “rhabdomyolysis”
- Locate search results
- Click on the first link that shows up
- Locate “symptoms” section on the webpage
Not so painful, but this process could be improved.
First, there are a lot of wasted clicks and waiting around for pages to load…especially if you’re running this type of search every day. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if you had a Hypochondriac widget on your desktop that would let you type in a disease and directly return its symptoms?
Second, if you ask Grandma to look up the symptoms of Rhabdomyolysis, it might take her an hour as she tries to navigate the different interfaces of the webpages she has to click through.
HP Labs’ “tasklets” address both of these problems by packaging and automating interactions. These interactions can be stored as widgets on a cellphone and use SMS to transmit information. Computer-illiterate grandma can open up the Hypochondriac widget on her phone, type in “rhadomyolsis” and receive a text message with a list of symptoms. Beautifully simple.
Now imagine what a nurse could do with this; what a patient could do with this. Even if he’s never seen a computer in his life, he could have access to a wealth of information on the internet through the cellphone he uses every day – uncluttered, affordable, and accessible. Service is still by invitation only, but SiteonMobile is really exciting technology for bridging the digital divide.