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article imageWeb inventor seeks voice-enabled Internet in Africa

By Owen Weldon     Jan 24, 2011 in World
The father of the World Wide Web is often considered by people to be Tim Berners-Lee, but Berners-lee has a new side project that he is working on in Mali and Senegal.
His latest side project is called the World Wide Web Foundation's VOICES project, and this aims to give families and youths a way to access the internet with voice-enabled apps, all without using typical computing abilities.
Steve Bratt, the CEO of Web Foundation, told sources that VOICES will provide training, tools, and techniques to make it easier for people to connect to the internet through voice. Bratt went on to say that in doing this they will be potentially allowing billions of new users to access services and information from the web.
Bratt and others are still in talks with people in Mali and Senegal, and they are trying to figure out how the voice-enabled apps will work with local context and needs. An app could allow someone who cannot read or write, to be able to call a number, choose from menu options such as medical and farming, and even use data and information in a visual manner that will not require a person to have much reading skills.
VOICES will also focus on health, as well as agriculture. The goals of the project include a free and open source platform with important functionality for delivering services that are voice-based, designing new methods that will help build low-cost but quality text-to-speech recognition engines, and probably the most important goal is to train students on how to create services like the ones VOICES will work on, and to make them self-sustainable.
Bratt also said that close to 70 percent of the world's citizens can access the internet through mobile apps. He went onto say that there are barriers that are blocking billions of people from using the internet, and those billions of people will really benefit from a project that would allow them to connect to internet via apps.
More about Web, Africa, Tim berners-lee
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