The Web Foundation, with funding from Rockefeller Foundation, is starting a new project on voice browsing acceptance and trust. The project is exciting for us because of a promising new concept: voice-based Web access.
The growth of usage of the Web in low-income countries has been researched extensively and there is unanimity amongst policy makers, researchers and practitioners for increasing its value as a tool for social and economic empowerment. Keeping our feet firmly grounded in examining existing opportunities and challenges, what has and has not worked in practice, the pilot project will investigate the potential of automated voice applications to deliver Web-based information to people living in rural, under-privileged communities in low-income countries.
The objective of this pilot is to investigate if people with little experience with information technology learn to communicate with the Web via their phone, and what level of confidence will people have in the information delivered through this channel. The pilot part of the project will be developed by the Web Foundation, in partnership with The North West University (NWU) in South Africa and particularly its group on human language technologies.
We are in the early stages of evaluating where to pilot the IVR application. It is important for us to understand the voice Web paradigm from the perspective of under-privileged communities in low-income countries, because we would be announcing another major initiative in this area soon. We are excited about this new initiative and hope to share the first set of findings with you in few months.