Smartphone apps hold relevance for India

Summary:Smartphones are poised to get only smarter and new apps are significant for markets like India, such as a software and smartphone accessory developed at MIT that can perform eye tests.

Last winter, during a family function in Jaipur, we had a great time when a relative used an iPhone app to tell everyone's age. The app would play a sound which only those under a certain age could hear it. 

Although for us, it was more an exercise for fun, apps like this have huge relevance in a country like India, where a large number of people do not even know their actual age. Such apps can be improvised to determine a person's (estimated) age (provided their hearing is not impaired) while registrations for Aadhaar, or the National Population Register (NPR) scheme, are underway.

In the developing world, there is a lot of social good which can be done through smartphones. For instance, Sproxil, a multinational company, uses cell phones to help consumers spot counterfeit drugs in the developing world.

Sproxil's Mobile Product Authentication tool allows consumers to verify product genuineness within seconds through a text message. In August this year, Sproxil and Bharti Airtel announced a partnership to combat the counterfeit drug market in Africa. 

Sproxil's service works by placing a scratch-off label on products. When consumers purchase a product, they scratch off the label to reveal a unique, random code. The code is then sent via SMS to a country-specific toll-free short code, and the consumer receives a reply almost instantly indicating whether the product is genuine or not.

This tool holds a lot of promise in India too, where counterfeit drugs is quite a menace. According to a World Health Organization report, almost 20 percent medicines sold in India are fake. One hopes Sproxil has plans to launch this service in India too.

A newspaper report today carried an interesting article about an app developed by a team headed by India-born researcher, Ramesh Raskar, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Raskar and his team have developed a software as well as a smartphone accessory that can perform eye tests and save you a trip to the optometrist.

The device, called NETRA (Near Eye Tool for refractive Assessment), can be clipped to a mobile phone with a suitable hi-resolution LCD display. It can then detect whether you need glasses or not. The test, according to the news report, takes less than a minute to complete.

Topics: Smartphones, Apps, India, Software Development

About

Swati Prasad is a New Delhi-based freelance journalist who spent much of the mid-1990s and 2000s covering brick-and-mortar industries for some of India's leading publications. Seven years back when she took to freelancing, India was at the peak of its "outsourcing hub" glory and the world of Indian IT, telecom and Internet fascinated her.... Full Bio

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