MAS.664: Digital Innovations

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Within the last few years, the mobile phone has become ubiquitous and its technology has become more sophisticated and capable than ever. However, today's mobile technology is designed to meet Western needs, even while subscribers in developing countries now represent the majority of mobile phone users worldwide. The nascent mobile communications system of developing countries represent endless possibilities for improving the local people's quality of life.

The goal of this workshop class was to work with low-income communities in Costa Rica and assist them in developing useful services and business that will improve their day-to-day life. During this workshop, students explored the issues involved with designing a revolutionary mobile communication system that is user-oriented, multi-functional, and versatile. Our design challenge was to develop an ope-source communication platform primarily for use with mobile phones. We aimed to develop a technology that enables individuals to design their own services and applications according to their needs, and by so doing, improve their own quality of life.

In collaboration with our sponsor Telmex, students studied the particular needs, culture and experiences of users in Costa Rica. Students worked in multidisciplinary groups, teaming with peers whose backgrounds range from design, engineering, to business. The class was conducted as a hands-on workshop, where students collaborated to generate ideas and design the software and applications.