Research

Mobility and Social Innovation

The Mobility and Social Innovation Research Group at TCS focuses on platform innovation, to improve the livelihood of people in the country by providing them access to education and primary healthcare. Another objective is to establish our leadership in design research (human–computer interaction).

 

Even as mobile phones have become ubiquitous in India, the challenge lies in finding cost-effective solutions to address technical, societal, and human problems through these devices. The challenge is compounded by the lack of access to technology; low levels of literacy; and diversity in languages, culture, and ethnicity. We strongly believe that mobile phone technology has the capacity to breach these barriers through thoughtful design and relevant mobile based platforms and applications.

The group aims to:

  • Develop prototypes, pilots, test-beds, HCI frameworks, models, standards, and guidelines for building rural mobile applications
  • Explore the area of service design based on perspectives of design thinking

Our areas of focus include:

Primary Health Care
We want to make high quality and affordable primary health care available at remote rural locations through platform innovation. Doctors on the move will be able to monitor, diagnose, and prescribe medicines to patients living in remote places through:

  • Easy-to-use mobile applications for village health workers in local languages using device computing
  • Low cost pathological devices that can transmit patient data to a central repository using wireless internet
  • A simple-to-use doctor console for visualization of relevant historical as well as current patient data
  • A multimedia channel for interaction with health workers

We are also exploring the ability of an ICT platform to connect various eco-partners such as the National Rural Health Mission, public and private hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, micro-health insurance companies, and pathological device manufacturing companies.

Apart from this, we are looking at ICT solutions that can help monitor water quality in far flung areas. A wireless sensor node that can quickly detect presence of E. coli bacteria in water is being developed jointly with the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and several universities overseas. Early results show that the detection time can be reduced to 15 to 20 minutes compared to 24 hours taken by the conventional method.

Design Research
TCS aims to reimagine rural India as digital India: A nation where the rural masses can use digital technology to progress towards a better life.

Our focus is to establish a set of guidelines for design of usable interfaces, particularly to aid information dissemination, collaboration, and education targeted at rural and differently-abled users.
We investigate the human-computer interaction (HCI) aspects of mobile phones in various communities, by building and deploying pilots. We investigate the confluence of people and digital systems as a socio-digital system, which can bring digitization to interactions between people and machines. 

GappaGoshti™, an ongoing project, is a mobile-based platform for semi-literate individuals, and those unfamiliar with technology and the internet. Through this mobile platform, users will have access to important information which will empower them both socially and economically. For example, an adaptation of GappaGoshti™ was used at the Kumbh Mela in Nasik, India held between July and September 2015. In 2011, the group was awarded the Aegis Graham Bell Award for the use of GappaGoshti™ in the agricultural community.

Related exploratory activities include:

  • Establishing interoperability of a mobile platform data channels and the conventional voice channel ― IVRS
  • Improving interaction design for the visually impaired
  • Building user models, especially cognitive and mental models, to design systems for the masses
  • Adapting existing HCI guidelines and frameworks established for Western countries to the Indian context

Service Design
Services are increasingly the mainstay of businesses. A mix of products and services enables a firm to create unique value for its customers. Our focus is on developing an analytical framework for creation, analysis, and improvement of services.  We investigate service design from the angles of Analysis and Synthesis from a Design Perspective.
 
Pattern language-based models are a useful tool for creating and analyzing services. We have collaborated with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay to develop a service design tool by leveraging and extending the research on pattern language.

Research Internship

Details: 

  • The Design Research team within the Mobility and Social Innovation Research Group offers internships to students in the areas of Service design and interaction design (human-computer interaction) in rural India ― for visually challenged users from the lower socio-economic strata.
  • These internships will offer students opportunities to learn by participating in ongoing experiments within the group.
  • Students can apply for either a five- or six-week summer internship program or a six-month academic internship program.
  • Students with a special interest in technologies such as Android, J2EE, and C/C++ under Linux can also apply.
  • Interested candidates may write to innovation.info@tcs.com with the subject ‘Interaction Design (Human Computer Interaction) — Internship’.  

The group is headed by

 

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