Image-based and Voice-Assisted Technology for low literate users

About Solution

781 million illiterate people worldwide struggle to use technology and are being left out of the digital revolution. This is because mobile technology is just not designed for people of low literacy levels. Smartphones, digital apps and services are all extremely text-heavy, use unfamiliar iconography designed in the west and are unsupported by voice guidance in local languages. As a result, these users feel excluded from the digital revolution further deepening the digital divide between the haves and the have nots.


Navana Tech is focused on building a design and technology stack for the next billion users. We are doing this by designing a holistic repository of localised iconography, a voice assistant to assist users through user interfaces in their local languages and standardising user flows that are commonly used in most applications like sign in, check out or making a payment. By enabling developers to build text-free, image-based and voice-assisted user interfaces, we will be able to remove the barriers that low literate users face while trying to access information and services on the internet.

Our team is focused on building the technology and design stack through a research driven process on the ground in India. We have conducted research in four states across India doing qualitative research to identify user pain points, testing localised iconography and testing our voice assistant technology with users on the ground. We will be continuing our research in four more states In February 2019 focused on building a robust solution for developers to better serve the next billion users. For example, 80% of the individuals we spoke to were incapable of adding contacts to an address book and only recognized phone numbers by memorizing the last three digits of the phone numbers in their call log to make calls. In response, we built a completely voice-enable address book to solve this problem.

Access to technology is no longer the problem because smartphones and data prices are becoming increasingly accessible for this demographic. The biggest problem for the next decade is going to be solving the human-computer interaction problem for the next billion users.


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Navana Tech is co-founded by two brothers, Raoul and Jai Nanavati, recent alumni from the Cornell Tech MBA class of 2018 where they built the proof of concept for this business. Navana Tech received investment from Cornell Tech and has been accepted to the Bharat Inclusion Initiative to focus on solving financial inclusion in India with a $30,000 grant.



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