Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Systems: Mobile Applications for Low-Literate Users

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Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Systems: Mobile Applications for Low-Literate Users. Juan Roldan , Usha Chandna , Kautilya Nalubolu , Alex Mitchell November 11, 2013. Outline. Mobile Phone Technology and the global illiteracy problem - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Transcript of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Systems: Mobile Applications for Low-Literate Users


Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Systems: Mobile Applications for Low-Literate UsersJuan Roldan, Usha Chandna, Kautilya Nalubolu, Alex MitchellNovember 11, 2013OutlineMobile Phone Technology and the global illiteracy problem

Designing Mobile Interfaces for Novice and Low-Literacy Users

IVR System: Voice Query Voice Response Model


Additional IVR applications

Conclusions and challengesMobile Phone Technology and the global illiteracy problemObsolescence of PDAs/other handheld devices, with a sustained or increasing need for mobilityLaptop computers are less portable and tablets more costlyIncreasing sophistication in applications/programs available on a mobile platformThe great number of mobile phone users/ subscribers already in developing countriesIlliterate populations in India, in parts of Africa and throughout much of Latin America have at least a passing familiarity with mobile technology

Why Mobile Phones?

Literacy Rates by Continent, 2011

5A. Illiteracy: the inability to read and write within ones native tonguea. We distinguish between nonliterate and semiliterate populations1. Nonliterate: having no reading/writing ability2. Semiliterate: an inability to read more than basic or perfunctory sentences; may be fluent in numeracyB. Technological illiteracy: expressing inexperience with or a limited facility for using and applying (mobile) technology

Two Types of Illiteracy

Mobile Phone Ownership by Continent, 2012, 20127In India, calls are billed at a per-minute rate of less than $0.01, one-eighteenth to one-twentieth of rates observed in the UK, US and JapanPer-minute/text rates in Latin America begin around the penny mark in some countries, and exceed $0.10 in othersOnerous taxation in Chile, monopolies in MexicoData plans are priced commensurate with the American market, despite enormous differences in GDP per capita earningIn Africa, call rates vary significantly by countryIn developing countries, mobile phone costs account for as much as 30% of household incomeMobile costs exacerbate income inequalities

Phone costs in India and Latin AmericaBarrantes, Roxana, and Hernan Galperinee. "Can the Poor Afford Mobile Telephony? Evidence from Latin America."Elsevier32.8 (2008): 521-30.Http:// Elsevier, Sept. 2008. Web.8Designing Mobile Interfaces for Novice and Low-Literacy Users

INDRANI MEDHI, Microsoft Research IndiaSOMANI PATNAIK, Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyEMMA BRUNSKILL, University of California, BerkeleyS. N. NAGASENA GAUTAMA and WILLIAM THIES, Microsoft Research IndiaKENTARO TOYAMA, University of California, BerkeleyMedhi, Indrani, Somani Patnaik, EMMA Brunskill, Nagasena Gautamala, and Kentaro Toyama. "Designing Mobile Interfaces for Novice and Low-literacy Users."ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI)18.1 (April 2011): 2.1+. Web.

Set out to describe barriers to mobile use and design possibilities for better engaging illiterate users, who occupy an increasing market share

Illiterate users were most likely to use phones exclusively for synchronous calling, and rarely exploited higher-order applications

Focus on low-cost mobile phone development projectsExamples from mobile health programs and mobile bankingIn many cases observed, respondents were already phone ownersDesigning Mobile Interfaces for Novice and Low-Literacy Users

Nonnumeric inputs: nonliterate populations struggled to use and identify unfamiliar symbols (*, #, &) in addition to letters for messages requiring text inputsSoft-key mapping: difficulties experienced with utilizing unlabeled and ambiguously labeled navigation keys Discoverability: features or attributes laid out incoherently in a mobile interfaceScrollbars: novice and Inexperienced users may be unaware that some features are hidden below those appearing on the main menuHierarchical navigation: Pertinent features and applications are buried in unreadable blocks of textGraphics not intuitively designed for navigation/to reflect the purpose of a buttonBarriers to mobile use by nonliterate populations12Language barriers occur where non and semiliterate populations cannot read/write within their down dialect, and where even among literate users the language and terminology of an application is foreign Mobile banking and healthcare apps: language characterized by technical jargon, alien phrases/idiomsMany apps produced for a global market use a single language, English, as a means of capturing many users with minimal investmentStill other apps, produced for foreign markets, use English prompts exclusively, or an unintelligible mix of domestic and foreign terms

The Peculiar primacy of the English language in mobile applications13Study 1Tested 58 subjects in Bangalore, India on fluency with mobile banking technology, each with absent or limited writing/reading capabilities3 Conditions:Text-basedControl groupVoice UI (IVR)Spoken options for menu selection; speech-based feedbackGraphical UIPicture-based menus Static, hand-drawn and culturally-relevant graphical representationsThree groups:(a) novice users (b) seasoned users(c) no experience with mobile devicesTwo experiments


Illiterate users were uniformly incapable of completing a transaction on the text-based UIVoice-based UIs were completed with a 72% success rate, and at less than half the speed of graphical UI trialsGraphical UIs saw a 100% completion rate, at an average completion time of 13 minutesSpeed differentials are thought to be related to users familiarity with voice-based technologies generally A natural fealty to voice-based UIs given experiences with synchronous calling, etc.Less hesitation, and a reduced fear of breaking or spoiling the phone, fears which are likely to abate with experience on graphical UIsResults (Contd)(1) Provide graphical cues.(2) Provide voice annotation support wherever possible.(3) Provide local language support, both in text and audio.(4) Minimize hierarchical structures.(5) Avoid requiring nonnumeric text input.(6) Avoid menus that require scrolling.(7) Minimize soft-key mappings.(8) Integrate human mediators into the overall system, to familiarize potential users with scenarios and UIs.Design Recommendations for Mobile Phone TechnologyTechnology resistanceTemporary service without durable solutions to the illiteracy problemPrograms do not provide mobile technology, but merely make it more accessible to current usersHigh vulnerability to financial shocks, theft, etcComplexity of creating UIs for countries with multiple dialects/languagesA limitation felt more strongly by voice UIs than by graphically-oriented onesProgram costs and sustainabilityDonor attrition ratesLimitationsLiteracy Training on Mobile DevicesALEX Program (US)Designed to combat functional illiteracy in developed countries among adults reading below a desired level of literacyA contextual/experiential approach to learningMet with students in one-on-one interviews to assess needs/goals (collaborative research)Originally adapted for PDAs/small computers, migrating to mobile phonesTransferrable internationally?ABC (Niger)4,750 subjects, aged 13-70 (mean = 36)8 months of instruction over 2 yearsSimple mobile devices, equipped with SMSHigh rates of efficacy in increasing literacy/numeracyIncreased literacy by a margin of up to three grade levels among teens, with more modest achievements observed among adult participants

Interactive Voice Response System (IVR)Interactive Voice Response(IVR) System?An automated telephony system that interacts with callers, gathers information routes calls to the appropriate recipient. Comprise of Telephony equipmentSoftware applications, adatabaseand a supportinginfrastructure

Vashistha, Aditya, and Rajarathnam Nalluswamy. "Voice Based Social Networking and Informatiion Delivery System for Farmeres." Convergence Lab, n.d. Web.IVR: Challenges in Scaling Voice ForumModerating Content at ScalePossible solutions :Hiring large fleet of dedicated moderatorsUtilize community moderator

Managing Call Cost at Scale Possible solutions :Call charges are reduced by leveraging local callsBroadcast audio via mobile internet

Vashistha, Aditya,IVR Junction: Building Scalable and Distributed Voice Forums in the Developing World Microsoft ResearchIVR JunctionConnects internet based users with phone based users Information exchange at international level Save users the cost of long distance phone call

Vashistha, Aditya,IVR Junction: Building Scalable and Distributed Voice Forums in the Developing World Microsoft ResearchIVR JunctionIVR Junction stores all voice data using online Cloud storage

www.microsoftresearch.comIVR Junction

IVR + Cloud based technology = IVR JunctionIVR junction integrates IVR service with social media services

www.microsoftresearch.comIVR Junction Users

Applications of IVR JunctionCGNet Swara

Avaaj Otalo

Health line

Viral Entertainment Platform-Pollywww.microsoftresearch.comApplications of IVR JunctionCGNet Swara

Avaaj Otalo

Health line

Viral Entertainment Platform-PollyPolly

PollyPolly is a telephone-based, voice-based application which allows users to make a short recording of their voice, modify it and send the modified version to friends.


Source: Jobs Opportunities through Entertainment: Virally Spread Speech-Based Services for Low-Literate Users. CHI13 presentation.Source: Jobs Opportunities through Entertainment: Virally Spread Speech-Based Services for Low-Literate Users. CHI13