HP Labs India
The Vayu project at HP Labs India, aims to deliver the value of computing and the internet for first time users in countries like India where IT penetration is still very low. Studies showed that the reason for low use of PC is just not the cost. There is a significant fraction of the population with a reasonable purchasing power - epitomized in India by the 200M families and small businesses in small towns - but does not invest in computing or internet access because of the lack of perceived value proposition (unlike TV, mobile phone), the complexity of interaction (keyboard, mouse, complex desktop interfaces), lack of relevant local language content and deeply entrenched paper-based processes in their life style. The vision of the Vayu project is to address the needs of this population, by leveraging the high ownership of and familiarity with mobile phones, TV and paper to deliver rich and intuitive user experiences with compelling value propositions for everyone in the family at an affordable cost.
The Vayu project is based on some basic assumptions that have been validated in the Indian marketplace namely,
- The number of mobile users will continue to be greater than the number of PC users by an order of magnitude in the foreseeable future.
- It is easier for an average user to migrate from the mobile handset to the PC experience in an evolutionary and step-wise manner.
Furthermore, the uptake of the PCs in the emerging markets has been quite slow due to many barriers, notable among them being:
- Lack of clear value proposition for desktops, laptops etc.
- Complexity of interaction (e.g. use of a keyboard for a non-English speaker)
HP Labs India has earlier developed multiple solutions to address some of these barriers within the context of the emerging markets, also applicable for the global market. The latest innovation from the labs is the Vayu Internet Device (VinD).
Vayu - VInD is targeted at middle-income families in India and other developing nations that do not own a PC. HP Labs India researchers have created an end-to-end ecosystem that comprises a set of intuitive and relevant user experiences, a distributed software platform and a prototype hardware device (Vayu Internet Device, or VInD) that can connect to a TV, work with mobile phones and connect to additional accessories. All these components are integrated to provide a simplified and more intuitive computing and internet experience in the living room. With VInD and an Internet connection, users can interact with Internet content using a basic TV remote, mobile phones, wireless slates, cameras, or even a wireless keyboard and mouse. Users can also interact with VInD via gestures, speech, touch, and paper, and use the built-in Zigbee host to turn their home into a “smart” connected home. The Vayu ecosystem can function as a ‘hub of the home’.
One of the key innovations in Vayu is the notion of ‘pairing’ that leverages the widespread penetration of mobile phones. The “pairing” feature of Vayu supports family members interact with Vayu via their mobiles - no matter where they are and which phone they are using. To tackle the complexity of interaction, Vayu uses simple interaction models that most users are already familiar with. From a platform perspective, this meant enabling the use of an off-the-shelf infra-red remote control and modalities like speech & gesture which might be more intuitive than the keyboard (think non-English speakers). From an interaction design perspective, this meant the enabling web consumption via paradigms like “channels” and “widgets” - which can be easily authored & customized.
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This page was last updated on March 2, 2012