Current Microsoft-funded research: can community radio be two-way?

Quick excerpt, thought this was interesting.  This R & D project was one of 17 grants awarded by Microsoft related to digital inclusion earlier this year.

Community radio still has the most extensive reach of media in developing countries.   So interactive radio is an interesting idea.  This is the project:

“AIR: Advancement Through Interactive Radio
John Bennett
University of Colorado at Boulder

Community radio is the dominant mass media in rural developing regions, but the potential for community radio to serve as an agent of social and economic advancement is limited by its inherent unidirectionality. We propose to develop and evaluate a mechanism for asynchronous listener feedback that addresses this deficiency. We will create and deploy simple, rugged, portable, and inexpensive computing devices capable of recording, storing, and forwarding voice feedback from rural listeners. We will initially deploy approximately 100 prototype devices, and will carefully monitor their use in order to evaluate the effectiveness of bidirectional community radio as a means to achieve development goals. In addition to its potential to serve as an agent of social empowerment and as a vehicle for building technical capacity in developing regions, AIR (Advancement through Interactive Radio) poses interesting research questions in the areas of mobile computing, ad-hoc networking, human-computer interaction, power management, encryption, and VOIP low-power radio. Our prototype deployment will target rural, disadvantaged women in five rural communities. The proposed approach has been met with enthusiasm by governmental, NGO, and technology partners. The proposed funding level will support the project through a two-year cycle of prototype development, deployment, and evaluation. “

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