GARY MARSDEN: So for those of you who were not [? at Kai ?],
my name is Gary Marsden.
I work at University of Capetown, South Africa in the
computer science department doing HCI type stuff.
I've been there for eight years, so if you're
interested, the accent is Irish, not South African.
He's genuinely South African.
Most of my work revolves around mobiles because there
are mobiles everywhere--
and they crop up in different forms and times.
Do you know what these containers that people have?
So what happens is any old containers off lorries and
stuff, they [UNINTELLIGIBLE] them out with cell phones that
are shared usage, so that's what it looks like inside.
These are different, because these are cell phones that are
used by any arbitrary person, as opposed to your own
personal-- so different people have different experiences of
the cellular network.
AUDIENCE: What's with that landline looking thing there?
GARY MARSDEN: That is actually the cellular handset.
They multiplex into the cellular network, so although
it looks like a landline, it is actually-- and if you go in
on these booths, their number is written up
and important stuff.
So it's a weird ecology.
And these have been so popular because you cannot steal
handsets out of a solid metal container, usually.
The cell phone companies, themselves--
so this is one of the networks, Cell-C--
are making these containers.
When I started out as kind of an ad hoc MacGyver kind of
solution, but now it's got real traction and these guys
rushing to tie in ships, bloop.
There you go-- there's your communication-- and they run
back out again.
But what's interesting to me, as a pretend ethnographer, so
I should say I'm in computer science originally but I've
kind of seen the light since then.
GARY MARSDEN: I know, that's fine.
My career is over anyway.
As one grows up in the time ships, these cell centers
become like a focal point, and you get all these funny little
businesses starting up.
So this is Lindikhaya's cell repairs.
With very interesting spelling of words and so
forth, you can see there.
And then the people selling fruit, and this becomes like a
central point for the neighborhood.
I took these shots--
Is that bad?
AUDIENCE: Somebody must have accepted, though, because it's
just like, oh [UNINTELLIGIBLE].
AUDIENCE: Press the green button.
GARY MARSDEN: So I took these shots at the start of my
sabbatical, which was in the second half of last year.
So these were taken around--
FEMALE SPEAKER: [INAUDIBLE] slides?
AUDIENCE: Yes, oh.
FEMALE SPEAKER: [UNINTELLIGIBLE].
AUDIENCE: OK, [INAUDIBLE]
AUDIENCE: Is that another [INTERPOSING VOICES].
AUDIENCE: We're [? dialing ?] the wrong room.
AUDIENCE: I didn't do anything.
AUDIENCE: Can you see now, [UNINTELLIGIBLE]?
AUDIENCE: You can continue, and I'll--
GARY MARSDEN: OK, while you fiddle.
AUDIENCE: Give us a hi sign, [UNINTELLIGIBLE],
when you can see it.
GARY MARSDEN: OK, so these are rural--
sorry, urban usage--
and then I went and spent a couple of months going through
Zambia and Malawi.
AUDIENCE: [INTERPOSING VOICES]
GARY MARSDEN: So Zambia and Malawi are two of the 10 first
nations on earth, but I was hearing all sorts of stories
about cell phone usage.
I don't know if you can see--
these are actually zebra on here in the grass.
Everywhere you go, there are cellphones.
To recap quickly, 77% of South Africans have cell phones, yet
only 11% of South Africans earn enough income to be
liable for income tax.
That's kind of startling.
AUDIENCE: So they have cell phones, or they keep them
active at all times?
GARY MARSDEN: That's active usage.
AUDIENCE: I met a lot of people who do have cell
phones, but they don't always have enough credit to--
GARY MARSDEN: I'll talk about that in a minute.
AUDIENCE: So they're not on monthly plans?
GARY MARSDEN: No, no one's on monthly plans.
We're all paying as we're going.
AUDIENCE: And the other comment I had, Gary, is the
stories you're telling are very consistent in lots of the
third world that I've been in, too.
I've been in-- for example, parts of the Caribbean--
You see an unemployed guy with two cell phones on his belt.
GARY MARSDEN: So then there is this shared usage, as well.
There are these telephone bureaus-- this is Malawi--
where they just take over an old shack and put in the cell
phones and get a battery.
This particular village has no electricity, so the guy puts
the car battery on the back of his bicycle, wheels off, gets
a charge, comes back, people bring him their cell phones.
GARY MARSDEN: Yeah, it's kind of a weird thing.
And this company, Celtel--
besides the containers being dropped in-- they can't afford
to do that in Zambia.
They build these little shacks where you can
go and buy air time.
It's kind of a less organized affair.
AUDIENCE: I can understand how you go here, and you can call
somewhere, but if the other person is in the same economic
status as you are, how do you know how to call them?
[INAUDIBLE] new to one of these things?
GARY MARSDEN: Oh, yes.
OK, I take your point.
There is that, but--
so what most people, as Olga said, have their cell phone
for is receiving calls.
I'll talk a little bit more about that, which sounds like
an oxymoron, but it's not really.
AUDIENCE: We just have a different economic model.
GARY MARSDEN: Precisely.
So everyone has a phone.
In fact, in South Africa, there have been 80 million
phones sold, and there are 40 million people living there.
So there have been two phones sold for every member of
population, which is why the 77% statistic is important.
Those 77% are active-- they're making and receiving calls.
Well, Robin, a lot of people have them for work.
This is a farm building, way out in the middle of nowhere.
So the farmer can phone up his workers and check
that they're working.
And so a lot of people get given phones for work.
And then, if they can save up a little money, they'll use
them for their own private reasons.
Also, for a lot of people, the only thing--
the only piece of technology--
they can afford is a handset which means that they get used
This is a nice lady filling up my bike.
There were two of us riding bikes, at this point, and she
used a calculator to add up--
to tally up-- what we owed.
You go to the bank, everyone has their
cell phone on a lanyard.
It is doing the sums. They can't afford a calculator and
the cell phone.
That's just unheard of wanton abandon.
AUDIENCE: Is a cell phone cheaper than a calculator?
GARY MARSDEN: No, it's not, but you can
only afford one thing.
The cell phone is cooler?
GARY MARSDEN: The cell phone is much more useful.
Because if you buy one of these, for example, it's got a
torch built in as well, so you don't to buy a torch, either.
Besides all the communication.
The communication is very important.
If-- those of you who were [? at Kai-- ?] in my talk, I
talked about itinerant working.
And families are torn apart, because the husband's on the
mine, and then his wife can SMS. So they're very important
When I was in Zambia, I saw someone get a phone call on
Blah blah blah blah blah.
Hang up, take their phone apart, put in a new SIM card,
reassemble it, make a call-- blah, blah, blah, blah, blah--
take it apart again, put the original SIM card back in.
And I got into this and I discovered there are three
networks with slightly different tariff structures.
Now, you and I-- for the sake of a couple of cents-- are not
going to stand there and wait five minutes
for a phone to reboot.
But for these guys, that was a crucial difference.
And to the point that--
some people who run businesses-- they've actually
got three phones, because they can't be bothered juggling.
But it's cheaper to have three phones and work out which
tariff is going to be--
And all this is denominated in US dollars.
None of these cell phone companies are
interested in learning--
earning-- local currency.
So they'll be earning dollars.
So it is quite a price sensitivity.
And as I said, if a cell phone is all you've got, then how
you use it is very different.
So how many of you have camera phones?
Most of you.
What if that was the only camera you had in your life?
There's no downloading.
There is no backing up.
Your whole life-- you put your wedding photos--
on your camera.
On your camera phone, that's the only place they are going
to be kept.
All right, so if you do that, it fundamentally changes the
way you feel about your camera phone.
And so guys that you talk to--
Andrew was talking about this earlier today--
when you go meet someone, they come and they have a
collection of photographs already in the phone.
It's like a PowerPoint presentation of their life.
And when you're chatting to them, they get it out and they
take you through.
It's quite a deliberate act.
And because of the limited storage, they think very
carefully about which images they keep
and which they discard.
And so I'll show you in a minute or two some of the
projects we've done around that.
So those are upbeat stories.
A couple of not so good stories.
This is the Kakombu Business Centre, and it's the border
between Angola and Zambia.
And it's run by this guy called Roy.
And Roy is having trouble because the cell phone
companies opened up two months ago and he
runs an internet cafe.
And his internet cafe has had no customers in two months.
It is not that the people are accessing the internet through
which they are, to some extent-- it's the fact that
all the spare cash in this economy is now
going on air time.
So the grocer shop is shutting down, to clothes shop is
Obviously, this is a novel effect.
Obviously people can't go on without shoes-- well
actually, they can--
But it will be interesting to see at what point, if ever,
the other businesses-- pick up.
This is in a tropical area so you can grow pretty much
anything you want to eat, so you don't
need to shop for food.
And so these cell phone companies are hoovering up,
and so cellphones are killing the internet.
The other story that I hear a lot about cell phone usage in
Africa is how it is helping subsistence farmers.
Have any of you come across this story about how the
they're out, they catch the fish, and they phone up the
markets, and then they go to the market that will give--
and everyone feels nice and warm inside.
I'm glad to be part of technology.
Well, I spoke to some of these guys on Lake Malawi, and they
They go, what?
Call the market?
Says look, these fish aren't worth the
value of a phone call.
And besides, why would I go to that market?
All my friends are at this market.
I don't want to go to that market for a couple of cents.
I'll go and see my friends, have a good
time, have a few beers.
Does he think, yeah, you're right actually, if you're a
So I poked around a little, and it turns out there are
such systems for farmers but it's for commercial farmers.
If you have umpteen acres of coffee beans, you can
subscribe to the National Farmers Union and find out
which country you should export your beans to.
But those are not really the stories I was told about per
little subsistence one man farmers.
I think there's a lot of disentangling of what's
actually happening, and what the companies would like you
to believe is happening out there.
The other thing is buying phones in
the developing world.
Have any of you seen this handset before?
This is the new Motorola handset designed for the
developing world, and it's fantastic.
It's really good.
It uses e-ink for the screen.
It uses little [? parts. ?]
It's got two antenna in it, so you don't have to be close to
a base station.
But I tell you, no one is going to buy it.
Why would you buy a handset aimed at poor people?
So if the only thing you can buy in your life is this one
piece of technology, you're not going to aspire to the
crippled handset for poor people.
These guys are just the same as us.
There's no difference.
The same thing happened with Siemens in Europe a few years
ago, when they launched a phone for old people.
It has big buttons in the screen.
This is what old people want, right?
So they don't have to put their glasses on to read the
screen, but nobody bought it.
Because, would you--
yes, that's the phone for me.
Crusty old person phone.
Give me a phone.
Oh, free cardigan.
So they re-marketed it, actually, as the big button
phone and they sold lots of handsets.
But it's the same mentality.
And so, if you go to a cell phone shop in Africa, what you
buy are not cell phones, but batteries.
Think about it.
All your old handsets are getting stolen or traded in or
whatever, but they end up in Africa.
And the first thing you're going to need is a new
battery, because the batteries are dead.
So you go to a cell phone shop and there are no actual
handsets for sale.
So this is a battery for a Siemens.
It comes with a 14 months guarantee--
which is misspelled--
Now if you imagine, when you go into these shops, there are
thousands of batteries, right?
So how do you choose?
Well, obviously, one with a 12 month guarantee is not as good
as one with a 14 month guarantee.
Even if there's no address, or if this thing blows up and
takes your hat off, there is no one to
sue, there's no address.
Look at the packaging.
There's a little tin foil hexagon stuck on here to
emulate a hologram.
It's kind of cargo cult.
But my favorite bit is the free plastic cigarette.
The other major brand gives away free pens, but
pens are not cool.
Look at this guy.
You can see around his neck here, he's wearing his plastic
cigarette with pride.
So, for some reason, it took me a long while to figure out
what was going on, but it just so happens that in Zambia, at
the moment, it is really cool to have a plastic cigarette.
And so people were buying these batteries.
The other thing to notice is here is a hands free kit made
by the Bluetooth company.
Now, it is not Bluetooth.
There are big cables in here and it is for your--
for your Noki.
N-O-K-I. 3100, 7210, et cetera, which is a good mate
for a mobile phone.
AUDIENCE: So is it locally manufactured?
No, it's manufactured in China, and these local
importers have made this box for it.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] spelled mete mean?
GARY MARSDEN: If you said mate--
with a Zambian accent, it would sound like mitt--
Finally, of course, if you can afford the battery, and you
have a little spare cash, you would want a new--
oh, oh, sorry.
AUDIENCE: The end.
GARY MARSDEN: The end.
Look at the packaging here, for the cases.
You want a new case because your phone is scuffed.
It's all white people, because again, it's an
I'm sorry, but this is just how is in Africa.
White people can afford good products, therefore if there's
a picture of a white person using that
product, it is good.
I mean, let's not get into the sociology and
the reasons for that.
It's terrible, but that's how stuff is marketed.
But if you look, these look like scenes from films, but
they're no films that I've ever seen.
And I carefully looked through all of them.
They're not actually taken from films, because someone
might get sued, then.
So it's constructed to look like people in movies.
Use these crappy covers for their cellphones.
Fascinating, look, I don't know what the
answer to this is.
I'm still kind of rolling it around in my head, but there
are all sorts of intricate understandings of the way
stuff works there, that just doesn't
happen here, for example.
And so that's where I was at, at the end of my sabbatical.
These are just some insights for you to mull over.
Another thing I thought I would show you is just some of
the projects that we work on, to give you a feel for the
kind of research that's being done there.
One of these is in conjunction with a charity called
Cell-Life, which sends out HIV workers to people who are HIV
positive to assess their needs of drugs and so on.
I know this student who is working with this charity.
He would go to a clinic and he would help the doctors build
these applications for the clinic's nurses to put on
their phone, so they could go out, ask
questions of the person--
ask about lesions, and weight, and stuff--
and then hit send, and then the doctor could post the
correct drugs to the patient.
It was a very efficient system.
But my student realized, actually, there isn't enough
time in the universe for him to go visit all these clinics,
so he built this system the allows nurses and doctors to
collect the data they want.
They basically draw little screens and they hit deploy,
and a compiles into a technology called [? WEG-- ?]
I don't know if you know this stuff--
that gets installed on your SIM card.
It's a SIM application, so it doesn't even need Java.
This is a standard--
the application cannot be bigger than something like 4k.
It was crazy.
But if you can fit what you need in 4k, it'll sit on the
SIM card and acts through the menu system of the phone.
I don't know, in the US, when you get a SIM card with your
service provider, often on your handset there appears a
menu from that service provider.
Have you seen it?
That's the same technology.
It's all the same.
And so, [? Minnear, ?]
he's built this thing and it's been given out to clinics.
The other thing we built is for photo sharing.
Remember I said about keeping all your photos in a handset?
Well, [? I have a nice ?]
project that's usually how you find the photographs.
But we saw guys-- do you want to see my family, and they
would pass around their handset.
So what you're seeing here on the screen are
three separate screens.
We did it on PDA so you can see it.
But the idea is if I want to show you my photos--
these are being broadcast over Bluetooth or WiFi
to the other handsets.
So as I'm describing what's happening, other people can
see, and as I pan around and touch things on the screen ,
or with the five way controller, that change is
being instantly reflected in other people's phones.
Now with the PDA version, the student who did this, Leo,
added a little drawing feature, and he thought it
would be fun to not impose any protocol.
In other words, there's no token passing.
Anyone can contribute at any time.
What we discovered is people started drawing mustaches on
each other, and playing.
And the evaluations--
we did it with friends, because we thought it would be
useful for storytelling amongst friends.
And sure enough, these guys loved it, to the point that--
when the evaluation was over, thank you very much-- no,
we're not going anywhere.
We want these.
Give us back the--
So that was fascinating.
And the reason I'm telling you this is I would never have
thought of this if I lived here, in the developed world,
because I would share my photos over Flickr.
Put them on the internet, everybody can see them.
Or I put them on my laptop and spin my laptop around.
But if you have no laptop and you have no Flickr, how are
you going to share photos?
So that made us think of a design solution that's not
obvious, but yet, has relevance and traction here, I
think, as well if you could do this.
I've noticed this, myself, if I go out with my friends and
we take photos of something.
We will sit around afterwards and show each other the
photographs of the thing that we have just done together.
Do you do that?
So that's insane, right, on one level.
Yes, I know I was there.
But somehow there is a kind of bonding around that, and so
it's fun to do that.
The project that Andrew is working on at the moment is
building on this notion of people having--
as Dan was saying--
having cell phones, but no airtime.
Can't afford to use them.
We discovered that people have an interest in information in
their local area, in their village.
What Andrew did was built a system, whereby you have a big
You got a phone?
and if I was interested in something, I would walk up to
the screen and take a photo of what I wanted.
Why would you do that?
Well all stuff that we've seen to date on this, where you
have a small phone interacting with a situated screen,
requires client software on the phone.
To either recognize visual tagging or to some link into
But we set ourselves the design goal of, well can you
do it with no client software?
Because the people we're trying to get to are not going
to have-- it's not like they can
download it off the internet.
It's not going to work.
So what we eventually came up with is a system whereby you
walk up to the screen and take a photograph.
Now at that point, the phone usually says, do you want to
save this photograph or send it?
You hit send--
and you send it to the screen.
Now the good news is if you have two devices that want to
communicate with Bluetooth--
normally have to pair them, right?
Type in the code.
Have you done this?
All right, but that's not going to work with six people.
OK, that's craziness.
The other standard solution is to spam content to people.
Does this happen in the USA yet?
In London, if you walk down Oxford Street, every so often
your phone goes, boo boo boo boop, and you go, accept
incoming Bluetooth message and it's some
crappy advert, right?
That irritates people.
But if you send a photograph to a
display, two things happen.
Firstly, the photograph is tagged with the unique ID of
your handset, so the system behind the screen now knows
who sent the thing-- what device sent the thing.
The second thing you do is you run image recognition on the
image that has just been sent.
And there you can see he wants information about what's
happening at the school and you can push back v-cards, or
videos, or documents, and the person now has it on the
handset for free.
No network connection involved, no
special client software.
As long as you know how to take a photo with your camera
phone, you're in good shape.
AUDIENCE: So it pushes it back--
GARY MARSDEN: It pushes back to one device.
The other thing is if you take a photo of something that is
not on the screen, you can contribute content.
So you send it up something, and the system goes, this
isn't something I know about.
So it just creates another little stack on the screen.
So let's say you're a plumber, you have no job, you up your
v-card onto the screen.
The next person comes-- ah, plumber.
Grab that, got the v-card in the phone, hello.
So there is this huge interest in local content and--
In these projects, we involve an NGO called bridges.org.
If you help us understand the kind of social impact that
we're having with these interventions--
and they've got a list here, called
the real access criteria.
I could talk about those, but I won't because it
will take all day.
But one of them is for any successful project, it must
have local content.
And so, because I was coming here today--
I was thinking, well, I think what we need in Africa is
Go with me here, people.
So this system I've just described to you it could be
So imagine you've got this big screen.
You section off a portion of the screen to a commercial, or
the government, or some organization who has a vested
interest-- who is willing to put money into getting
information to place, even one of the cell phone companies to
buy airtime off the screen, let's say--
so they pay for the screen and the PC.
You hook it into the network over a little GPRS card, and
then the village can upload and download and create its
own local store of information for that village.
Now I don't know how to do searching and retrieving--
I know some people who do in this room.
I just thought if you guys--
Matt, you said you are interested in getting into
these sort of develop--
Maybe you didn't.
Maybe I misheard you.
GARY MARSDEN: Yeah?
So these kind of developing world type things.
This is one thing I think that Google could do very well if,
ultimately, as a company you guys wanted to get into Africa
and do stuff.
AUDIENCE: I think the name's already been taken.
GARY MARSDEN: Google Village?
I thought this up two nights ago.
I thought it was a good thing.
AUDIENCE: It's been done.
GARY MARSDEN: It's been done, great.
My career is over.
Anyway, so that's just something to think about.
I don't know if I got.
Time, I'd say five to 10 minutes.
GARY MARSDEN: OK, well I'll use five more.
To just some other projects that we work on, which is,
we're trying to do internet banking.
I had this epiphany moment--
I was telling people about it at lunch time--
where I saw someone come up to a street trader and say, can I
buy this thing here?
And the trader said, yes, sure it's $5.
And the other guy said, can I pay you in airtime?
And the guy said, yeah, sure.
And so, in Africa, one of the networks--
is this Me2U system where you can peer to peer transfer
money as airtime.
And so the guy went, beep beep beep beep beep beep, and the
trader went, beep, yes, there you go.
And so they move airtime around.
Now think about this.
People have been trying to do m-banking solutions forever,
and they start with banks.
These guys don't have banks.
They don't trust banks.
They don't want to know about banks,
because banks means tax.
That's not good.
But they trust the networks--
nice, friendly MTN, and Vodacom, and these people.
And there's no new interface.
They know how to load airtime.
They are just moving around airtime.
AUDIENCE: A question--
what's the smallest unit you can send?
GARY MARSDEN: $0.50.
That's how much an SMS costs.
AUDIENCE: It's an interesting micro [INAUDIBLE].
GARY MARSDEN: So you may think this is crazy, but people save
up to buy $0.50.
They skip the mail, save $0.50, and they can send an
SMS to their husband.
I just had this, ah, airtime is the new currency.
But unfortunately, I'm not an economist, and so it is an
idea I'm trying to understand.
I think if you want to launder money, it's a great idea.
AUDIENCE: $0.50 at a time?
GARY MARSDEN: $0.50 at a time.
Last two slides.
I want to educate on this crazy idea about getting rid
of computers in developing world universities.
Because all the students have cell phones already, and
computers are such big, complicated, expensive things.
I thought, well even if you lease high end cell phones to
the students where they can keep all their notes-- we
built a little system which is what this
thing is showing you.
Where, if you've got a laptop or WiFi, or Bluetooth, you
hoover up a slide deck.
It pushes it out to each of the clients in the room.
So you've got all the notes here.
If you need to work on the notes, or write an essay, you
take your cell phone along to the computer labs.
There are no computers, but there is a docking station, a
monitor, a keyboard--
do all your stuff.
Because the other big problem we have is the connectivity.
Our entire university of 17,000 students and 5,000
faculty has a 10MB link.
That's 22,000 of us trying to use 10 meg.
So we want the students to stop looking at pornography,
or whatever else is clogging up.
So if you had to do all your searching through your cell
phone, you'd only really search for stuff that you
actually needed, I conjecture.
So that, I think, it would solve a couple of problems at
once, but my Vice Chancellor-- he just smiles.
Nice idea, Gary.
But some day I hope to find someone who will sponsor that.
And then, last project--
interestingly enough, when she was in Cape Town worked with a
thing called the District Six Museum.
District Six is an area of Cape Town that was bulldozed
during apartheid because white, colored, and black
people lived there, happily together, and the government
said, that's not right.
Can't be dealing with that, and just moved in and
flattened the place.
So that area is still a field in center of Cape Town.
Everyone was so horrified by that act, no one built on it.
It's just so wrong.
So what we did is we worked with District Six Museum and
we've started to build a virtual environment of
how it looked in the '60s from all the old stock photography.
In fact, based on work done at Stanford about volumetric
reconstruction from photographs.
But I thought how boring, to sit in a museum.
So what we did is we got cellphone--
well actually we got PDAs--
and we stuck GPS receivers on them, and tilt sensors.
And we built a time machine, right?
So you can go out to the field--
and this little window, the screen on the PDA--
acts as a peephole back in time.
Because of your GPS and tilt, you can see what was there at
five frames per second.
It's not really fully immersive yet, but you get the
idea and it's a nice technology for the future.
And so just to finish off--
I live in Africa.
It's a nice place to come and visit, and if any of you are
interested, I would be happy to chat to
you about the projects.
We've got a conference coming up which is designing
interactive systems in Cape Town in February.
So if any of you are into the design side, more, of
interfaces and so on, we'd love your submissions.
And if any of you know anyone, we'd love some sponsorship
because our chief sponsor resigned from his company
three days ago and so we're now without a sponsor.
And also, there's this really clever guy called Matt, who I
wrote a book with.
I talk about a lot of these projects in the last chapter--
we wrote stuff on developing world.
So if you're interested in these kind of developing world
aspects of mobile, that last chapter is a
good place to start.
It has lots of references and so on.
And that is my 30 minutes up, I see.
AUDIENCE: Thanks a lot.
GARY MARSDEN: Thank you.
MALE SPEAKER: We do have some time for discussion, so--
I'm keeping track of time, so you can just
start talking now.
AUDIENCE: So you talk a lot about Bluetooth and taking
pictures with phones.
Do people really have advanced handsets?
I see a lot of very basic Nokia.
GARY MARSDEN: There's a lot of basic Nokia.
Most the ones, they have Bluetooth.
The camera phones are starting to come through now, and even
the Mp3 phones.
MALE SPEAKER: What's the [INAUDIBLE] process, so what
you're trying to do is you're trying think of creative
resource-efficient solutions for the next--
in two years time.
If you think of the cutting-edge stuff that
[UNINTELLIGIBLE] that's like, you're thinking like five,
six, seven years down the line.
So you've got to work with the broad, easy base, and hope
that in a year or two's time that some Bluetooth camera
phones will kind of filter down to the market.
And then we'll be ready to create solutions for that
GARY MARSDEN: I met this one poor guy who has six Mp3s on
his phone, and he is doomed to listen to those six Mp3s for
the rest of his life.
No PC or internet.
AUDIENCE: You said something in your [? Kai ?] talk that
was intriguing, I think intentionally provocative.
And it was basically, [UNINTELLIGIBLE]
really doesn't count.
Could you say a little bit more about why, for the people
who weren't there?
I think you made a very interesting argument for your
particular design problem space.
GARY MARSDEN: Yes, and I was intending to be provocative.
I said usability is irrelevant, and my rationale
for saying that is that's not the start of the process.
You need to start with understanding what people
If you can give them something they need, or adds value to
their life, they will figure out how to use it.
And it's not like they have a lot of other distractions--
well that's not true-- they don't have a lot of other
They have only this one thing.
They'll figure it out if it actually is useful.
I mean, sure, they've got to go and carry water, and all
those things, but it's not like, I don't have time to
figure out the internet and the TV and the jolly handset.
They just have a handset.
And as soon as someone figures it out, there is such a
community of use, everyone will know how to do it.
Oh, look, you can do this, and tell all their friends.
And so the usability aspect is not that relevant, unless you
want to get published at Kai.
MALE SPEAKER: Just to follow up with that, watching people
do mobile applications in the developed world, and people of
commutes have no time to play around to find features.
It's a different thing.
It's not that they won't put up with
things that aren't usable.
But they will invest the time.
There's almost like, it's fun to spend some time finding
what this application will do.
I think we are trying to build things which promote that sort
of engagement because it locks them into the application a
bit later on.
So I think we can--
we can learn from--
it's a really nice interplay, learning from the emerging
world into our world, which is also emerging technologically.
How do people choose their phones that they're buying?
What are the criteria they use, or do they market them?
GARY MARSDEN: Different people--
there's this notion when I was talking to people--
they want a strong handset.
Now there's no English equivalent to what they
actually mean, but by strong they mean it's got a good
It's sufficiently thick, like Matt's razor,
here, is too thin.
Pick it up, hmmmm, no.
But if you have a brick phone, like a 5110, you know, these
old Nokias with the first xpress cell phones, people
laugh at you.
It's just a terrible social faux pas.
So there is--
the most popular handset is the Nokia
1100, with the torch.
Do you know this one?
It's black and white-- it's nice, got a torch on the top.
It's got a torch on the top.
That is a useful feature if your village has no
MALE SPEAKER: I think one of the other things I picked up
in my field work was, it was really nice to be unique.
So the nurses I worked with when--
the handset I gave them had a nice color screen.
So that was a really important status item,
and it had a camera.
They could archive their family photos.
To stand out and be unique was an important thing.
AUDIENCE: That's an interesting point, I thought.
Before I ask him, does anybody else have a question?
AUDIENCE: I do, at some point.
I was actually wondering if people get into photo sharing,
like going on to the internet and downloading pictures to
Or is it too advanced?
GARY MARSDEN: Well, in Cape Town they might, but for the
vast majority of Africa, there are no internet cafes.
MALE SPEAKER: There is no internet here.
MALE SPEAKER: So the big thing I found was when someone like
the nurse they had there, they would have very important
family photos that they'd taken like of their child that
was back home, or their sister who was
working somewhere else.
And they would sit you down once you had met them and they
run you through this little presentation and they'd say,
this is my daughter, and this is my sister, and this is my
husband, and it was quite an important thing that you went
to that [UNINTELLIGIBLE].
As opposed to [INAUDIBLE]
downloading it off of computers.
AUDIENCE: So it was actually a little bit more personal?
MALE SPEAKER: Yeah, you've got it with you the whole time.
And when you meet people, out comes the phone, they go for
the family stories.