Microsoft Research Inspires Worldwide Digital Inclusion

Microsoft Research announces its Digital Inclusion and Inspire initiatives, which seek to address technological challenges in society and make computing more accessible.

In a bid to combat the widespread global technology gap, Microsoft Research, a division of Microsoft Corp., announced Friday two initiatives designed to encourage computer research and technological uptake in developing countries.

Microsoft Research, which works collaboratively with the global academic community, unveiled its $1.2 million Digital Inclusion RFP (request for proposal), a worldwide research opportunity that aims to address technological challenges hindering global progress in health, education and social conditions, according to a news release.

Microsoft Research also announced its Inspire Program, which is designed to establish collaboration between academics in the European community and in developing countries, by supporting researchers and lecturers, Tom Healy, lead program manager for Microsoft Research, External Research and Programs, told Ziff Davis Internet.

"The personal and informational connections made possible through computing and communications technology are becoming ever more critical to economic, educational and social progress," said Rick Rashid, senior vice president of Microsoft Research, in a statement.

"Yet many significant challenges remain to be solved in the push toward digital inclusion on a global scale. We hope these programs will encourage more researchers to pursue approaches in computing technology that advance these goals--getting us one step closer to digital inclusion."

Microsoft Researchs Digital Inclusion RFP is designed to expand worldwide computing information technology beyond its traditional user base, in a bid to address challenges (such as health care, economic development) in remote rural and urban communities by soliciting pertinent research project proposals, according to the programs Web site.

The External Research and Programs Group of Microsoft Research will further extend the Digital Inclusion concept by exploring the use of wireless technologies and applications to make relevant and inexpensive computing widely available, the Group said.

Microsoft Research says it will support academic research targeted at specific technologies, taking into special consideration proposals that assume a multidisciplinary approach toward Digital Inclusion issues, according to the release.

"While the technology perhaps exists to deal with many of the challenges posed by underserved communities, the problem is that the challenges themselves are terribly ill-defined," said Balaji Parthasarathy, from the International Institute of Information Technology-Bangalore, in a statement.

"This calls for collective definition of user needs, for which users, designers, and researchers must work closely."

The Digital Inclusion RFP identifies a number of breakthrough objectives.

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