One of Indias over 800 million mobile users. Photo: Scanpix Rajesh Kumar Singh
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One of Indias over 800 million mobile users. Photo: Scanpix Rajesh Kumar Singh
Sachin Gupta IBM research India Photo: SR
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Sachin Gupta IBM research India Photo: SR

"Spoken Web" launched in Kenya and India

Spoken web
1:39 min

This summer a parallel to the world wide web called "Spoken Web" is planned to be launched. The idea is to reach billions of people who currently lack access to the internet, but owns a simple mobile phone. The new website will be based entirely on speech and do not demand that persons can read and write. The first countries to test the new spoken web via mobile phones are Kenya and India.

Any person or company or organization that want to do a websites in the spoken web get a phone number much like an Internet address. The pages are linked to each other in a large network and accessed with standard GSM phones via a toll-free number or at local rates.

If you want to browse the spoken web you call to a portal number and search through the subject headings, though it is not solved yet how to search freely in the audio files or how to easily connect the spoken web sites with the regular Internet.

Researchers at IBM's India lab has worked for 7 years with the research and tested the technology on thousands of Indian illiterate. The initial offering was useful agricultural information, but soon the test persons began to make personals, competed in singing, started to blog or tried to find customers for their business.

Today, more than two billion people have access to the internet, but five and a half billion own a mobile phones. Sachin Gupta, Marketing Manager at IBM's research lab in New Delhi expect that the spoken web will be launched in late June 2012 in Kenya in English and Swahili and in India in a variety of languages shortly thereafter.

- In Kenya, we will offer spoken web to farmers together with the mobile operator Airtel Africa in late June and it has the potential to be bigger than today's Internet, says Sachin Gupta.

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