A useful technology may be able to help rural health workers in India with more efficiently recording health data. A digital pen and paper application was recently developed by Indrani Medhi, winner of MIT’s T35 Young Innovator Awards, to provide a more efficient way for local health workers to enter and track data. The application would enable health workers to input data using pen and paper but also record it digitally. The application appears to currently be in prototype stage; however, Medhi has explained that if it were to become a product, it would cost approximately $100.

Local health workers in rural areas collecting child health data may find that a lot of time — for intervention and monitoring — is lost in the process of digitising data. Young Indrani Medhi, winner of MIT’s T35 Young Innovator Award and an associate researcher with Microsoft India’s research, is part of a team that is working to solve this problem.

Low-cost app

Their product, a digital pen and paper application for maintaining rural health records, attempts to provide a user-friendly tool to health workers to be able to enter and track the data they collect on a daily basis. This low-cost application directly accepts handwritten input on ordinary paper notebooks placed on a digital slate, simultaneously generating a paper and digital record.

Ms. Medhi’s project was among one of the projects demoed at an event, held here on Tuesday to mark the global anniversary of IT major Microsoft’s Research division.

“Built on the familiar pen and paper interaction, we saw during our three-month evaluation with 10 low-income and low-literate health workers in Madhya Pradesh, that this could work,” she said, adding that if productised, this could cost up to $100.


Among the many projects displayed, a good balance of technologies for developers as well as those with socially relevant applications, were Wikibhasha (to help Wikipedia editors create articles in regional languages), a project that puts the entire Wikipedia on DVD to be used in rural areas, energy-efficient mobile communication using cloud support and Debug Advisor for developers, to name a few. Events showcasing innovations at each global centre were held across the globe.


Speaking to presspersons, P. Anandan, Managing Director, Microsoft Research India, said as part of its missive to promote innovation, Microsoft India had been partnering with the IITs and IISc, holding events and even collaborating with the Government on new projects such as the India Digital Heritage. Creating products that have a social impact is atop their agenda, he said, pointing to projects such as the Digital Pen, and Digital Green, a project that helped disseminate information among farmers in rural India.

Microsoft Research India has teams focussing on algorithm research, cryptography and applied mathematics research group, mobility networks, ‘vision and visualisation’ and technology for emerging markets.