Hi! If you don’t feel like doing some heavy reading today, here’s the long story short version of this post:
Today, November 25th, 2013, we’ve launched a Kickstarter project called VERBAL, an Open Source development platform created by Flock in an attempt to bring the benefits of the Internet to the millions of people who are not yet connected, all through the use of their voice.
We’ve created a functional prototype but —in order to have the platform up and running by June 2014 (our goal)— we need to raise 94,000 USD before January 15th, 2014.
Oh, a video explaining the project might help:
* These first few days are crucial in achieving our goal so, if you like this project, please share it on your social networks so that more people can find out about (and back) VERBAL *
Once the introductions for the impatient have been made, I’ll describe the formal details in full:
The “Digital Divide”
The term “digital divide” is often used in reference to the socio-economical inequalities between communities who have access to the Internet and those who don’t. It would then seem that the simplest solution is to provide Internet connections to the part of the population that doesn’t yet have them. However, the problem is much more complex when you consider that there are several things you need in order to connect to the Internet:
1.- you need to know how to read and write
2.- you need access to a device (a smartphone, a tablet, a computer)
3.- you need to know how to use the device
4.- you need a connection (whether fixed or mobile) that grants you access the Internet
So, despite the fact that many attempts have been made to fix this problem, almost 70% of the world’s population still doesn’t have an Internet connection. And considering the possibility that —maybe— there could be a simpler way to connect them, was what gave us the idea to create VERBAL.
¿What is VERBAL?
VERBAL is an Open Source service that grants its users access to many of the Internet’s applications, just by using their voice, through any type of phone.
In order to achieve this, we used two technologies: cloud computing and voice recognition. When a user dials VERBAL‘s number, the call connects to one of our servers, which then takes on the entire process, sparing the user the need for a computer or mobile device.
Then, through voice recognition, the user’s words are converted to text and, from there on, the procedure is just like that of the Internet we all know, as we can use text to, for example, conduct a search or send an email.
The point is that, at Flock, we’ve developed a first prototype but —in order to fulfill the project within the time, manner and goals we’ve established— we need your help (the more, the merrier, actually) since we’ve launched the project on Kickstarter in order to fund it (by January 15th, 2014) and so, manage to make VERBAL a reality by June 2014. This is the video we made to present our project:
In addition to the video above, this link takes you to a detailed description of the project, including technical specs, the people responsible for it and (as on any other Kickstarter project) a full description of the rewards we’ll deliver to the backers who help us raise the 94,000 USD we need.
VERBAL is Open Source
Something I find VERY relevant when discussing VERBAL is that it is an Open Source platform, meaning that, once the project has been launched, anyone with technical ability will be able to develop more applications for VERBAL, in addition to the ones included in the inital suite.
Imagine being able to contribute with your own banking or bus-ticket reservation app, among others that may be related to health, education or even natural disasters: the possibilities are endless.
Ok, how do i help?
Get ALL the details about VERBAL on Kickstarter.
If you like the project, you can make a pledge, starting at 10 USD. On the right side of the screen you’ll find a list of rewards we offer in exchange for your collaboration.
With VERBAL we can connect millions of people to the Internet, just by using their voice. Hopefully, with your help, we can bring this to life 🙂