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Assamese woman makes computer easy for illiterates

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, March 26 � A young woman from Assam has achieved honours in the challenging realm of computer literacy. What is more she, along with two co-workers, have earned a patent from the US Patent and Trademark Office last year.

Indrani Medhi, an associate researcher with Microsoft, has developed text-free user interfaces designed to help illiterate and semi-literate users for whom the computer appears as an alien tool. Her design, according to experts, �would allow any first-time illiterate person�to immediately realise useful interaction with minimal or no assistance.�

The achievement was important enough to gain attention of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and she was featured in the Technology Review, the institute�s magazine on innovation. In the March 2010 edition, Medhi�s work has been described in some detail.

The magazine�s TR 35 list, in which she is mentioned, recognises just 20 individuals under the age of 35, whose work shows exceptional brilliance in fields such as biotech, materials, computer hardware, energy, transportation and the internet. Medhi�s contribution is in the area of computer and electronics hardware.

Significantly, Medhi�s work was exemplary in its land-to-lab linkages. An architect trained in NIT Nagpur and Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Medhi spent long periods in the slums of India, Philippines, and South Africa understanding the genuine needs of the under privileged communities.

According to the Technology Review, during her research Medhi discovered that illiterate people with no experience with computing were intimidated by technology. The young innovator surmounted the problem by preparing full context videos with a storyline that made the technology easily comprehensible to the user.

Speaking to The Assam Tribune, Indrani�s mother, Meera Medhi, said that her daughter was always keen to develop something that would benefit the poor and marginalised. �Now her innovation has made her realise a dream,� the proud mother remarked. She said that the creative imagination that enabled Indrani to develop the new product could have its roots in her childhood spent in drawing and reading.

Indrani�s father, Bimal Medhi, revealed that despite a busy schedule, she offers voluntary service in a Bengaluru-based animal welfare facility.

It is worth mentioning that the TR 35 list was prepared by a distinguished panel, which included K Vijay Raghavan, Director, National Centre for Biological Sciences, TIFR, PK Sinha, Chief Co-ordinator, CDAC, and Viswanath Poosala, Head of Bell Labs India, among others.

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Assamese woman makes computer easy for illiterates

GUWAHATI, March 26 � A young woman from Assam has achieved honours in the challenging realm of computer literacy. What is more she, along with two co-workers, have earned a patent from the US Patent and Trademark Office last year.

Indrani Medhi, an associate researcher with Microsoft, has developed text-free user interfaces designed to help illiterate and semi-literate users for whom the computer appears as an alien tool. Her design, according to experts, �would allow any first-time illiterate person�to immediately realise useful interaction with minimal or no assistance.�

The achievement was important enough to gain attention of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and she was featured in the Technology Review, the institute�s magazine on innovation. In the March 2010 edition, Medhi�s work has been described in some detail.

The magazine�s TR 35 list, in which she is mentioned, recognises just 20 individuals under the age of 35, whose work shows exceptional brilliance in fields such as biotech, materials, computer hardware, energy, transportation and the internet. Medhi�s contribution is in the area of computer and electronics hardware.

Significantly, Medhi�s work was exemplary in its land-to-lab linkages. An architect trained in NIT Nagpur and Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Medhi spent long periods in the slums of India, Philippines, and South Africa understanding the genuine needs of the under privileged communities.

According to the Technology Review, during her research Medhi discovered that illiterate people with no experience with computing were intimidated by technology. The young innovator surmounted the problem by preparing full context videos with a storyline that made the technology easily comprehensible to the user.

Speaking to The Assam Tribune, Indrani�s mother, Meera Medhi, said that her daughter was always keen to develop something that would benefit the poor and marginalised. �Now her innovation has made her realise a dream,� the proud mother remarked. She said that the creative imagination that enabled Indrani to develop the new product could have its roots in her childhood spent in drawing and reading.

Indrani�s father, Bimal Medhi, revealed that despite a busy schedule, she offers voluntary service in a Bengaluru-based animal welfare facility.

It is worth mentioning that the TR 35 list was prepared by a distinguished panel, which included K Vijay Raghavan, Director, National Centre for Biological Sciences, TIFR, PK Sinha, Chief Co-ordinator, CDAC, and Viswanath Poosala, Head of Bell Labs India, among others.