Recognizing innovation using mobile phones

Winners of the mBillionth Award South Asia 2012, organized by the Digital Empowerment Foundation, were announced at an event in New Delhi
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First Published: Mon, Jul 23 2012. 12 27 PM IST

New Delhi: Winners of the mBillionth Award South Asia 2012, organized by the Digital Empowerment Foundation, were announced at an event in New Delhi on Saturday. The third edition of the awards, aimed at encouraging and recognizing innovations on the mobile phone platform across South Asia, were given in nine categories that included m-Inclusion, m-Infrastructure, m-Entertainment, m-Governance, m-Health and m-Education and Learning. Some of the winners are profiled below:
Category: m-Infrastructure
Product: txtWeb
Company: Intuit India Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd
phototxtWeb is a global platform where anyone with any mobile phone can create, discover and consume Internet and txtWeb content and services by messaging keywords to one national number, 92433 42000 for India and 898 932 for the US. Normal SMS charges apply for the use of the service, which does not require any data plan or Internet connectivity.
“It allows all mobile phone users to access information on the Internet via SMS,” said Manish Maheshwari, global business head and general manager, txtWeb.
The applications are developed by an open community of publishers, developers and businesses and can include anything like Wikipedia content, local market prices, sports information, travel information and examination results. Since it is a text-based service, txtWeb works on every platform and on any device.
Watch Video
Manish Maheshwari tells us how txtweb works and why sms-based applications will remain popular in the era of smart phones.
Started in January 2011, it has amassed 3 million unique visitors; with 1 million active users per month making 4 million SMS requests a day consuming 3,000 applications a month developed by 10,000 strong developers and contributors’ community.
Category: m-News & Journalism
Product: Jharkhand Mobile News
Company: Gram Vaani Community Media Pvt. Ltd.
It is a mobile-based local information platform, helping people and government agencies to engage in a dialogue.
People call in at a toll-free number and listen to audio snippets left by other people, who could be local people as well as community representatives or development agencies. The service allows the caller to leave a message, which can be feedback or reports on various local issues.
Watch Video
Gram Vaani goes a step ahead of community radio by creating communities of mobile phone users. Director Aaditeshwar Seth talks about the service.
“By this project, we want to empower people who are at the bottom of the pyramid,” said Aaditeshwar Seth, director of Gram Vaani Community Media Pvt. Ltd.
Users have to give a missed call to 088000097458 and the system calls them back and provides login and id details to access the service. Listeners have the option to listen to various kinds of content, including poetry and folk songs for entertainment or information-based snippets on agriculture, health and education that are curated by local residents and experts.
Launched in January 2012, the mobile community radio gets 1,000 calls a day, with a call lasting for four minutes on an average.
Category: m-Inclusion
Product: Integrated MFI-LifeLine Mobile Platform
Company: ZMQ Development
Universal Mobile MFI Channel is a platform that connects microfinance institutions (MFI) and their loan officers to those who have taken loans, primarily women. It provides users with all the required information related to their account, loans, payments, due instalment, balance and respect and non-receipts.
“The USP of the solution lies in the non-financial services like the lifeline services, which deals with their needs like health, livelihood opportunities and education,” said Subhi Quraishi, founder, ZMQ Development.
Watch Video
Subhi Quraishi talks about the “Universal Livelihood” programme and how it can help women in getting loans from MFIs
The product can be installed from MFI’s administrative system. It works in offline mode, in an app-like interface and is supported by all feature phones. The company has deployed this project in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh and plans to roll out in Bihar, Pudducherry and Haryana. About 50,000 women have been connected through the platform.
Category: m-Education & Learning
Product: 10 Language SMS Dictionary
Company: Khandbhale.com
This service can be used by sending a message for different local languages to 9243342000 and has been designed for villagers to translate English words in their local language.
“While during my graduation, I realized how difficult it is to study in English when your schooling has been done in Hindi, or in my case, Marathi. I studied using English to Marathi dictionary and hence the idea came to build a local language dictionary,” said Sunil Khandbhale.
Watch Video
Sunil Khandbahale says his services allow people in a multilingual nation to live and work together.
The SMS service is free and is available on all platforms and instruments. The service is targeted towards students, teachers, villagers and professionals working in rural areas. The most popular user group has been students, schools and colleges. The SMS service is available in 10 languages that include Gujarati, Marathi, Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, Bengali, Punjabi and English. Launched six months ago, 400,000 SMSes have been recieved till now.
Category: m-Enterainment
Product: Paywast
Company: USTronics.com, Inc.
Paywast is a SMS-based mobile social network in Afghanistan where Internet connections are unreasonably expensive. With more than one million users across Afghanistan, Paywast, launched in January 2011, has become an easy way for people to share information and communicate their interests.
“Paywast is a user-friendly social network which is available on all the network operators in Afghanistan. It connects with friends, colleagues and family. Our users’ young, educated, tech savvy youngsters in the age group of 16-30 years,” said Ab. Saboor Mobariz, IT manager, operations at Paywast.
Watch Video
AbSaboorMobariz talks about the Paywast mobile service in Afghanistan and why young educated Afghans are flocking to it.
Users can create user groups, both public and private, by sending an SMS to 729, the Paywast short code. Not only individuals, small businesses, organizations and civic authorities are also using the service to reach out to users. Available in Pashto, Dari and English, the service initially was free of charge but now it charges a monthly fee, based on intended consumption.
Create profiles, groups, add and delete members, ask for help, all of these features are available to users on SMS. You don’t need GPRS or a data plan to use the service.
Category: m-Entertainment
Product: Coke Studio – Mobile Melodies
Company: TELiBrahma
A mobile application, which uses bluetooth and WiFi to deliver free rich media content in public places. The company used this application for delivering Coke Studio India content for season one last year. It gave users an opportunity to download music files, videos and wallpapers of their favourite Coke Studio performance by turning on WiFi and bluetooth at public places like coffee shops, malls and restaurants.
The mobile application also helps users browse through the content catalogue and download content of their choice. Also, gives users an option to opt out of the solution by turning off the bluetooth.
Watch Video
MohitGoyal talks about this company’s BluFi service and how it gets around problems like the general lack of wi-fi in India.
“As you enter a location, you will be prompted to turn on your bluetooth to access exclusive content. Also, it is a highly safe network as we redirect all the traffic to the product catalogue,” says Mohit Goyal, senior manager for business development, TELiBrahma.
The zones were established at 2000 locations across the country at Cafe Coffee Day, Shopper’s Stop and Barista outlets and also restaurants. In a span of 2 months, over 10 million downloads were achieved.
Category: m-Environment
Product: Nano Ganesh
Company: Ossian Agro Automation Pvt. Ltd.
Nano Ganesh is a GSM mobile-based remote control system exclusively used with water pump sets in farms. It is an electronic hardware unit connected to existing water pump which can be controlled by a mobile phone.
It allows farmers and irrigation operators to use mobile phones from remote location to monitor the irrigation systems installed in hazardous areas. The farmer’s mobile phone is connected to the phone installed with the electric pumps in his farms, where he calls the irrigation system to switch on and off the pump rather than manually turning on each pipe.
Watch Video
SantoshOstwal tells us how Nano Ganesh transforms farmers’ lives by allowing them to operate their water pumps remotely via mobile phones.
“The system helps in remote monitoring, saves power, water and prevents soil erosion. It is designed to be robust, to perform efficiently in rural areas where power supply is erratic with open wiring,” says Santosh Ostwal, CEO, Ossian Agro Automation Pvt. Ltd.
The company trains rural technicians, which it calls ‘agro electronic commanders’ which help the users with installation, service and after sales support. It has trained 1,200 such technicians in five states where it has a dedicated sales network. The price of the whole unit ranges from Rs560-2,800 and 15,000 units have been installed across the country.
Mint has a strategic partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation, which hosts the mBillionth Awards.
geetika.r@livemint.com
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First Published: Mon, Jul 23 2012. 12 27 PM IST