The Karnataka Government has launched a simplified graphic and voice based internet access system to supply information like weather updates and market prices to the rural population.
The stripped down system developed by the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT) called the data rural application exchange offers multi lingual support and audio announcements for the rural population through a simplified graphical user interface controlled via numeric inputs.
According to CDOT, the DRAX system tries to bridge the digital divide by providing applications that can interact with the rural population. Citizen services can also be offered through the kiosk, says CDOT.
A similar attempt is being made by technology giant IBM in India. Researchers at the big blue launched the Spoken Web, a system which brings the power of the web to people who can not read or write. They are trying to connect users to the internet through a voice interface using their HyperSpeech Transfer Protocol. A pilot project was launched in two Karnataka districts, however, the project has not been scaled up so far.
According to IBM researchers:
Spoken Web helps people create voice sites using a simple telephone, mobile or landline. The user gets a unique phone number which is analogous to a URL and when other users access this voice site they get to hear the content uploaded there. Interestingly, all these voice sites can be interlinked creating a massive network, which can work like the World Wide Web.
If successful, the DRAX will be launched in other districts as well. Others trying to address similar problems in rural India include the Reuters Market Light and solutions from companies like Ek Gaon.