Sign In

Communications of the ACM

India Region Special Section: Big trends

The Internet of the Orals

voice commands directing a smartphone

Credit: Getty Images

Internet services like social media, online discussion forums, and crowdsourcing marketplaces have transformed how people participate in the information ecology and digital economy. These services empower mostly urban, affluent, and literate people, and improve their reach to information and instrumental needs. However, these services currently exclude billions of people worldwide who are too poor to afford Internet-enabled devices, too remote to access the Internet, or too low literate to navigate the mostly text-driven Internet.

In India and Pakistan alone, there are nearly 1.1 billion people offline. Although 70% of their populations have access to mobile phones, most people still use basic or feature phones, making it difficult to extend existing Internet services on these devices running custom operating systems. Even when people can afford smartphones and the Internet, literacy barriers prevent 26% of adults in India and 42% of adults in Pakistan from using text-based interfaces. Most South Asian languages and dialects are still unsupported by the advancements in natural language processing ruling out the use of voice interfaces like Siri and Alexa.


No entries found

Log in to Read the Full Article

Sign In

Sign in using your ACM Web Account username and password to access premium content if you are an ACM member, Communications subscriber or Digital Library subscriber.

Need Access?

Please select one of the options below for access to premium content and features.

Create a Web Account

If you are already an ACM member, Communications subscriber, or Digital Library subscriber, please set up a web account to access premium content on this site.

Join the ACM

Become a member to take full advantage of ACM's outstanding computing information resources, networking opportunities, and other benefits.

Subscribe to Communications of the ACM Magazine

Get full access to 50+ years of CACM content and receive the print version of the magazine monthly.

Purchase the Article

Non-members can purchase this article or a copy of the magazine in which it appears.
Sign In for Full Access
» Forgot Password? » Create an ACM Web Account