WEBBOX
INNOVATIVE AND SOCIALLY SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT

Design can make a difference. Simple solutions can have a big impact.

A socially sustainable product developed with a human centered design approach

HOW TO BRING A NEW WAY OF VIEWING AND ACCESSING THE INTERNET BASED ON A RELIABLE EXISTING CELL PHONE PLATFORM TO EMERGING COUNTRIES? SHORT STORY ABOUT AN INNOVATIVE AND SOCIALLY SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT.

Setup is plug and play, using an existing TV. The keyboard and UI are very visual and intuitive, with an onscreen guide at startup. By that it brings internet connectivity to families in emerging markets like rural India and South Africa, who otherwise have to use costly and often distant internet cafés.

DEVELOPING A HUMAN CENTERED DESIGN CONCEPT

In Indian households, televisions are second only to refrigerators in popularity. This result of an internal Vodafone study sounds banal at first. The information becomes meaningful, however, when it becomes clear how much potential it contains. Discovering this potential was the goal of an innovation workshop on the topic “Mobile Internet in Emerging Countries”. Our task: Work in an interactive team to develop solutions or devices that can make internet use through mobile networks more attractive. During our work in multiple sessions of exploring the habits of people in emerging countries a simple connection catched our interest: Wouldn’t it be possible to treat an ordinary television as an extension of your mobile device, using it as an enlarged version of the screen?

With the Vodafone Webbox we could show: It is possible. From technical perspective, the product is no magic trick – consisting of a 3G mobile device extended with a full-fledged keyboard and a navigation key that makes it easy to control the menus. To start-up the Webbox, the user just has to insert a SIM card and connect the device to an existing television.

A socially sustainable product developed with a human centered design approach
A socially sustainable product developed with a human centered design approach

ENRICHING LIFE BY CREATING SIMPLE SOLUTIONS

Main target for the design was to create a simple and unambiguous device. Based on a plug’n play technology platform we optimized ergonomics and usability with many physical prototypes.

The meaning of this innovation for the user, however, can hardly be exaggerated. Since its introduction to the market in 2011, the Webbox has made it possible, especially in rural parts of India and Southern Africa, to achieve complete internet access at an incomparably low price. By focusing on user needs during the whole design development, the Webbox evolved into a real game-changer, emphasizing Vodafone in a highly competitive market. The success of this project discloses the potential of radical design-driven innovation for companies in changing and growing markets.

A socially sustainable product developed with a human centered design approach