Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Challenges for Solving

We often brainstorm about things we would like to build. I was recently looking at the Rockefeller/InnoCentive partnership. InnoCentive is a place where you post problems you'd like solved. We came up with a similar list for Benetech. However, since our issues are all information tech issues, we don't fit the InnoCentive model (which is hard sciences). But, I thought I'd share some of these ideas so people have some picture of what we're thinking about.

1. “The One Place” – a single global database for accessible content on top of all of the other, partial databases.

2. Plug-in for Mozilla to allow disabled users to surf websites and to read books and newspapers directly, without requiring a screen reader and therefore making book access more practical in developing countries, as well as libraries (because you don’t need to buy a $1000 piece of software).

3. Firefox add-on that "optimizes" pages for screen readers. E.g., remove useless visual information that a visually impaired person wouldn't care about.

4. Email encryption strategy: build plug-ins that automatically send encrypted email by implementing Simson Garfinkle’s proposals (MIT)

5. Navigating Bookshare.org with voice activated software
a. Help to target aging population, people with physical disabilities using a voice interface
b. Could be reapplied for other projects afterwards

6. Spec out and build an HTTP-based protocol whereby developers would write applications that serve the same kind of navigational, search, browsing and download options common to web sites, but instead for screen readers. This proof of concept would also require a prototype screen reader that could communicate via this protocol as opposed to "reading" pages in a browser. The experience might be akin to navigating an automated phone answering system (e.g., 1-800-TellMe). This would be worth doing with someone like the University of Wisconsin’s TRACE Center

7. Cell phone based book and newspaper reading for disabled and illiterate poor people

Food for thought, I hope!

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