IBM (NYSE:IBM) and the University of Tokyo (RCAST) recently announced a new collaborative research initiative to explore an open, common user interface platform for mobile devices, to make them easier to use for disadvantaged populations around the world through its Open Collaborative Research program . The aim of the collaborative research is to make the internet more accessible to those who are illiterate, blind, deaf, or elderly to access digital information provided by business and governemtns. IBM researchers in Tokyo and the human information engineering research team, led by Professor Tohru Ifukube of RCAST, will place their research focus on Japan’s elderly population, where the aging rate is growing at a rapid pace, making Japan the world’s most elderly population. With IBM’s accessibility technology expertise and RCAST’s expertise, they will work directly with the elderly to investigate and determine real-life requirements of elderly people when using mobile devices.
"New technologies and various new services will continue to emerge, and mobile devices will become a window of opportunity for us to engage with information anytime anyplace," said Professor Tohru Ifukube of RCAST. "With IBM’s expertise in accessibility technologies and mobile web technologies, coupled with our expertise in five-senses communication and NID’s interface design expertise, we are looking forward to develop inclusive technologies for elderly population to help improve quality of life."
"Through this collaborative research initiative, we will uncover real information accessibility requirements and issues that the elderly and people in developing economies are facing today," said Chieko Asakawa, IBM Fellow and chief technology officer of IBM’s accessibility research. "By focusing on mobile devices, which have a tremendous potential to empower them, we believe the findings will help us offer affordable services to a large population, who are still deprived of access to key information sources."