- ಕೃಷ್ಣ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಿ - Krishna Shastry
- ಪ್ರಾಣಿ ಹಕ್ಕುಗಳು, ಶುದ್ಧ ಸಸ್ಯಾಹಾರ, ಪರಿಸರ, ಆರೋಗ್ಯ ಇವೆಲ್ಲವನ್ನೂ ಒಳಗೊಂಡ ವೀಗನಿಸಂ ಎಂಬ ತತ್ವದಲ್ಲಿ ನಂಬಿಕೆ ಇಟ್ಟಿರುವ ಒಬ್ಬ ಸರಳ ಕನ್ನಡಿಗ ನಾನು.
ನನ್ನ ಇತರ ಆಸಕ್ತಿಗಳೆಂದರೆ ನೀತಿಶಾಸ್ತ್ರ, ಸಾರ್ವಜನಿಕ ನೀತಿಸಂಹಿತೆಗಳು, ಸಾರ್ವಜನಿಕ ಆರೋಗ್ಯ, ಆವಿಷ್ಕಾರಗಳು, ವಿಜ್ಞಾನ, ಕನ್ನಡ ಭಾಷೆ, ಭಾಷಾನೀತಿಗಳು ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ.
I am a simple Kannadiga following veganism, that cares about animal rights, pure vegetarianism, environment and health.
My other interest include ethics, public healthcare, public policies, innovation, science & technology, Kannada language and linguistic policies.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Consider old people who are leading retired lives, a sabjiwala or housemaid, a rickshaw driver or a watchman – almost everyone has a cell phone these days. But think for a minute – do you think they all are happy users of cell phone or are they struggle to learn and use it? Are they accepting it as inevitable evil in their lives though some parts of the magic box attract them too?
I feel that there is a need for simple, yet highly effective cell phones for these kinds of people. Read further to know what kind of issues I have observed and what I am recommending. If there is already a cell phone meeting several of these requirements, please let me know!
2. Problem Statement
As a background, I am giving couple of real life examples:
Example 1: My parents
Though quite well educated and having experience of using several electrical and electronic gadgets in the past, my parents struggle with cell phone due to multiple reasons.
· They are aging and no longer wish to constantly learn new technologies
· Also, they find that certain design features are genuinely making it difficult for them to use
Specific problems they had with earlier phone (an ordinary Nokia make)
· One of the main complaints my dad had was with the volume; maybe he hears slightly less now but it’s not that he felt same with all cell phones
· My mom is slightly better off in using such new gadgets when compared to my dad, but she too is unhappy with the small font size
Well, my dad’s issue seemed critical and hence few months back I got them a new cell phone which seemed to have good volume – it was a LG one, again a simple model costing less than 2k. When I came home and gave it to my parents, they were initially excited but then ended with not-so-satisfied look on their face once they started using it. I even took some pains of feeding several contact details into the new phone so that they feel less burdened by all that. Still, they were dissatisfied.
· My mom asked with much concern if it has bigger font size – that’s when it struck to me that she considered her own problem also to be critical and that she was wishing it to be much better in the new one. Well, the font size turned out to be even smaller in the new one.
· We also discovered that using torch is quite painful in the new phone compared to earlier one. They were excited earlier with the old phone that it had a nice and easy to use torch, but it felt like a feature was snatched away from them.
· Worst was ringing volume. The speaker is on the rear end and if you keep the phone down on a soft surface like sofa or a cloth, you cannot even hear the cell phone ring! And the volume is very high when you lift it. When I took it to the LG service center, they said that’s how it is designed and it has no front speakers!
All this annoyed me and I wondered – Why can’t there be a simple, but highly effective cell phone for basic usage?
Example 2: Maids at home
We have a maid at our home at Mangalore. She is in her 30s, and has a simple looking, cheap cell phone. But it is definitely not simple for her in any way. Her main problems are:
· She is not well educated and just cannot digest English in the cell phone.
· She cannot easily look at the call logs, messages and so on
· She cannot even add a contact in her phone without assistance from someone else
· All she can do is to receive call and make a call (not by searching saved contact, but by pressing number referring to a handwritten list)
Now at Ahmedabad, we have another maid coming to home. She is also in her 30s, educated only till 8th standard. She has never used cell phone and doesn’t understand English. She can manage with Gujarati and Hindi only. She is now planning to buy a cell phone and I am sure she will face similar problems described above.
3. Special Category Users
Basically, we see here two categories of people:
· Category 1: Quite well educated and affluent people above 50-60 who are not tech savvy
· Category 2: Very less educated people (and someone with little/no prior experience in using electronic gadgets)
I think there will be millions of people who fall into one of the above categories, wishing if cell phones were easier for them to use. Why no cell phone manufacturer designs and manufactures cell phones specifically keeping these people in mind?
4. Solution Recommendations
Focusing on Category 1 customers
Consider them as someone who is “challenged by technology” though they are not mentally or physically challenged!
Manufacturing cell phones satisfying following basic requirements will satisfy most customers in Category 1, I think.
Primary Purpose, Basic Needs:
· All they want to do is to make calls, receive calls and that’s it!
· Of course they would like to maintain contacts in cell phone
· And torch is a nice practical tool in day to day life
What is NOT important?
Most of them really don’t care about
· FM Radio
· Dual SIM
· Internet, 3G etc.
So, provide them purely as optional/add-on features.
1. Great Sound: Need outstanding sound quality and related options
a. Need extra high volume setting!
b. Switching to speaker phone and back should be ultra easy (provide an external button)
2. Visible Text: Text displayed should be very clearly visible
a. Users should be able to change font size to make it quite big, very big, if required!
b. Changing text size should be easy, like zooming in or out
3. Easily Manage Contacts:
a. Should display all details of a contact at once, if required i.e. mobile number, home number, office number, email address etc.
b. Switching between detailed view and short view should be ultra simple
4. Block push messages: You might have seen that push messages come to our phones and even if we try to just read it, we get subscribed to some unwanted services and lose money. I don’t know why this unethical practice is not checked by concerned authorities, but these are most annoying and confusing for this category of users.
It is very hard or almost impossible to recognize push messages in some low end phones, we need something better here.
a. A short education kit or tips about push messages and how to recognize/block them
b. When a push message arrives, display it in very distinct format and add an extra step to warn user before opening it
5. Easy Typing: Provide innovative ways to provide easy typing; they are not going to text much, but it is important while managing contacts.
a. Provide a small external qwerty keyboard that can be connected to cell phone easily for easy typing!
b. Provide easy integration with computer so that they can type using computer keyboard
Above options would help them greatly, especially while at home.
6. Torch: Provide a good torch with a simple external button to switch on/off, not through menu
7. Easy Menu: Make their menu more informative
a. User should be able to keep a setting where menu explains itself through text/audio at multiple stages
8. Make it rugged: Don’t make it too delicate
9. Goodies for better marketing: I am sure they would like if you provide them ring tones, wall papers and screensavers of yesteryear great personalities instead of today’s!
Golden Rule: I once again reiterate the golden rule that I recommend: Wherever possible, there should be external buttons so that they don’t have to get lost in the menu or press multiple buttons carefully to switch on/off something (speaker/torch) which is basic utilities for them.
Focusing on Category 2 customers
Not just the technology, the language also becomes a big problem for some of these customers (less educated). Provide them with innovative ways to use cell phones better:
1. Provide all features mentioned above for Category 1
2. Some people in this category, especially younger folks, might want following features
a. FM Radio and Games, as one of the only few sources of entertainment
b. Dual SIM, as they care about each rupee and like to maintain two SIMs with different special offers
c. Camera if not internet, 3G etc.
Though their education level or affordability is low, some may want above features; so, ensure that these are available as add-on features on the basic model.
3. Local Language
a. Provide as many things as possible in local languages; it will not only win their hearts and boost cell phone sales, but also will be a great service towards such people
b. Provide them a good and detailed usage handbook in local language
4. Specially focus on Easy Menu:
a. Make it more audio based than text based
b. Provide extensive help, tutorials (audio based with video demos)
5. Contacts in audio format
Considering that speech to text is not perfected technology, consider options where people can store contacts in audio format itself:
a. Of course they cannot dial using the contact saved in that format, but it will help them
b. Or at least names can be saved in audio format which they can later change it to text with someone’s help or themselves, slowly (till then phone should speak out the name while browsing through the contacts)
6. Provide easy to use audio messaging (for less educated people)
5. Closing Note
I guess many more innovative options can definitely be thought of, which would make usage easier. We are already seeing such innovations happening in high end phones. Here I tried to focus on simple and low cost technologies that can be easily implemented in low end models. I am confident that such phones will make above described special category customers much happier than today, and boost their confidence in using modern technology.