Millions of homes worldwide now enjoy access to digital content and services through smart-speakers such as Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home. Promotional materials and users’ videos typically show homes that have many well-resourced rooms, with good power and data infrastructures. However, in case of Indian communities that reside in slums, where dwellings are usually very compact (one or two rooms), personal home Wi-Fi is almost unheard of, power infrastructures are far less robust, and due to financial constraints, this smart-speakers are unaffordable to this communities.

My Contribution-     Creating Prototype, ,  Qualitative research,  Brain storming ideas,  Participatory design,  Iterative design


Inspired by the “hole in the wall” Internet-kiosk programme, we carried out workshops with slum inhabitants to uncover issues and opportunities for providing a smart-speaker type device in public areas and Passageways. Following this, we designed and deployed a simple probe that allowed passers-by to ask and receive answers to questions.


We recruited 12 emergent user participants in groups of 4 people. We then demonstrated Google Now, and showed the group an Amazon Echo Dot, explaining how this device was often used in people’s homes. Participants were then asked to reflect on how such interfaces would or would not be useful in the lives of themselves, friends, family and their wider communities


In order to further explore the potential for public space speech interaction, we created a physical prototype of a deployable device. After considering and evaluating the design outputs from the Dharavi workshops, we chose to focus on a comprehensive, user-triggered interactive system. That is, passersby are able to walk up, speak a question and receive a response.

Street deployment: Dharavi We deployed the prototype for around one hour in a busy public street in Dharavi (see Figs. 1 and 3 for in-situ photos). Our goal was to observe passersby and analyse the types of queries and behaviours that the prototype stimulated. Our initial approach was to place the speaker in a visible location and simply observe its use.

Street deployments: Chaitanya Nagar

We carried out further deployments in a different, more publicly area of Mumbai, placing the device in a range of public spaces such as religious shrines, snack centres and tea stalls, for around one hour in each place. In each place we followed the same procedure as described for the deployment in Dharavi.


Overall, we can categorize many of the general queries into the following types:
Basic facts (e.g., “who is the president of America?”);
Context-specific information (e.g., travel times, prices of local commodities, weather, news);
Domain-specific queries (e.g., finding recipes or playing music);
Philosophical questions, or those directed at the device itself (e.g., “where are you [the device] from?”)