In January we announced a new project on voice browsing acceptance and trust. The objective of this project 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.
As part of the pilot project our aim is to test user acceptance of technology and trust in information received. For this we decided to evaluate existing farmer helpline projects, and investigate the integration of automatic voice response system in the current human-based setup.
We have identified a test-bed for this in the LifeLines India Project currently being run by One World South Asia, the Indian chapter of One World International Foundation based in London.
The LifeLines service leverages a mix of internet and telephone technologies to provide essential and demand-based information, advice and guidance to remote and rural communities in India through the medium of voice, in the local language and within 24 hours. In the last six year it has spread its network to over 150,000 farmer households across 3 states – Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh – in the agriculture sector and scaled up to include over 455,518 teachers in 105,676 schools across the state of Rajasthan where it serves as a toll-free helpline in the school education sector.
Our initial project with them will involve testing IVR application with a small subset of knowledge workers and farmers. We will also evaluate the best Hindi language TTS system for this purpose. I Stephane and Etienne will be in India starting tomorrow to kick-start this exciting project. Watch out for some interesting updates in the near future.