Publication statistics

Pub. period:2003-2011
Pub. count:22
Number of co-authors:39


Number of publications with 3 favourite co-authors:

Nimmi Rangaswamy:
Sumitra Nair:
Thomas N. Smyth:



Productive colleagues

Kentaro Toyama's 3 most productive colleagues in number of publications:

Ravin Balakrishnan:108
Bonnie A. Nardi:67
Susan M. Dray:50

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Kentaro Toyama


Publications by Kentaro Toyama (bibliography)

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Toyama, Kentaro (2011): Technology as amplifier in international development. In: Proceedings of the 2011 iConference 2011. pp. 75-82.

Amplification theories of information technology argue that technology is primarily a magnifier of existing institutional forces. In this paper, these ideas are synthesized and augmented for an amplification theory of "information and communication technology for development" (ICT4D), the study of electronic technology in international development. Three mechanisms for amplification are identified, arising out of differentials in access, capacity, and motivation, and the ideas are developed using examples from telecenters, television, and mobile phones. The amplification thesis contradicts theories that imply that technology's impact is additive or transformative in and of itself, e.g., that access to technology levels the playing field of power, or that the Internet, per se, democratizes access to information. The consequences of an amplifier theory for ICT4D are that (1) technology cannot substitute for missing institutional capacity and human intent; (2) technology tends to amplify existing inequalities; (3) technology projects in global development are most successful when they amplify already successful development efforts or positively inclined intent, rather than seek to fix, provide, or substitute for broken or missing institutional elements.

© All rights reserved Toyama and/or ACM Press

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Smyth, Thomas N., Kumar, Satish, Medhi, Indrani and Toyama, Kentaro (2010): Where there's a will there's a way: mobile media sharing in urban India. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2010 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2010. pp. 753-762.

We present the results of a qualitative study of the sharing and consumption of entertainment media on low-cost mobile phones in urban India, a practice which has evolved into a vibrant, informal socio-technical ecosystem. This wide-ranging phenomenon includes end users, mobile phone shops, and content distributors, and exhibits remarkable ingenuity. Even more impressive is the number of obstacles which have been surmounted in its establishment, from the technical (interface complexity, limited Internet access, viruses), to the broader socioeconomic (cost, language, legality, institutional rules, lack of privacy), all seemingly due to a strong desire to be entertained. Our findings carry two implications for projects in HCI seeking to employ technology in service of social and economic development. First, although great attention is paid to the details of UI in many such projects, we find that sufficient user motivation towards a goal turns UI barriers into mere speed bumps. Second, we suggest that needs assessments carry an inherent bias towards what outsiders consider needs, and that identified "needs" may not be as strongly felt as perceived.

© All rights reserved Smyth et al. and/or their publisher

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Sambasivan, Nithya, Cutrell, Ed, Toyama, Kentaro and Nardi, Bonnie A. (2010): Intermediated technology use in developing communities. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2010 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2010. pp. 2583-2592.

We describe a prevalent mode of information access in low-income communities of the developing world -- intermediated interactions. They enable persons for whom technology is inaccessible due to non-literacy, lack of technology-operation skills, or financial constraints, to benefit from technologies through digitally skilled users -- thus, expanding the reach of technologies. Reporting the results of our ethnography in two urban slums of Bangalore, India, we present three distinct intermediated interactions: inputting intent into the device in proximate enabling, interpretation of device output in proximate translation, and both input of intent and interpretation of output in surrogate usage. We present some requirements and challenges in interface design of these interactions and explain how they are different from direct interactions. We then explain the broader effects of these interactions on low-income communities, and present some implications for design.

© All rights reserved Sambasivan et al. and/or their publisher

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Sambasivan, Nithya, Cutrell, Ed and Toyama, Kentaro (2010): ViralVCD: tracing information-diffusion paths with low cost media in developing communities. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2010 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2010. pp. 2607-2610.

We describe ViralVCD: a low cost method for tracing paths of information diffusion in developing communities using physical media. We instituted a participatory video framework for creation and dissemination of developmental videos in seven urban slums and peri-urban communities of Bangalore, India. By combining a call-in contest with Video CDs, we were able to measure developmental impact as well as elicit data on social networks and technology usage practices. In particular, our technique was able to extract data from multiple layers-social, technological, and developmental. ViralVCD allowed us to identify key actors and map information diffusion, as well as technology ownership and access. These findings have implications for HCI initiatives targeting low income locales and populations.

© All rights reserved Sambasivan et al. and/or their publisher

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Kam, Matthew, Dray, Susan M., Toyama, Kentaro, Marsden, Gary, Parikh, Tapan and Cutrell, Ed (2010): Computing technology in international development: who, what, where, when, why and how?. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2010 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2010. pp. 3135-3138.

Building on the successes of prior workshops at CHI and other HCI conferences on computing in international development, we propose a panel to engage with the broader CHI community. Topics to be discussed include why international development is important to HCI as a discipline, and how CHI researchers and practitioners who are not already involved in international development can contribute.

© All rights reserved Kam et al. and/or their publisher

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Amershi, Saleema, Morris, Meredith Ringel, Moraveji, Neema, Balakrishnan, Ravin and Toyama, Kentaro (2010): Multiple mouse text entry for single-display groupware. In: Proceedings of ACM CSCW10 Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work 2010. pp. 169-178.

A recent trend in interface design for classrooms in developing regions has many students interacting on the same display using mice. Text entry has emerged as an important problem preventing such mouse-based single-display groupware systems from offering compelling interactive activities. We explore the design space of mouse-based text entry and develop 13 techniques with novel characteristics suited to the multiple mouse scenario. We evaluated these in a 3-phase study over 14 days with 40 students in 2 developing region schools. The results show that one technique effectively balanced all of our design dimensions, another was most preferred by students, and both could benefit from augmentation to support collaborative interaction. Our results also provide insights into the factors that create an optimal text entry technique for single-display groupware systems.

© All rights reserved Amershi et al. and/or their publisher

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Medhi, Indrani, Gautama, S. N. Nagasena and Toyama, Kentaro (2009): A comparison of mobile money-transfer UIs for non-literate and semi-literate users. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2009 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2009. pp. 1741-1750.

Due to the increasing penetration of mobile phones even into poor communities, mobile payment schemes could bring formal financial services to the "unbanked". However, because poverty for the most part also correlates with low levels of formal education, there are questions as to whether electronic access to complex financial services is enough to bridge the gap, and if so, what sort of UI is best. In this paper, we present two studies that provide preliminary answers to these questions. We first investigated the usability of existing mobile payment services, through an ethnographic study involving 90 subjects in India, Kenya, the Philippines and South Africa. This was followed by a usability study with another 58 subjects in India, in which we compared non-literate and semi-literate subjects on three systems: text-based, spoken dialog (without text), and rich multimedia (also without text). Results confirm that non-text designs are strongly preferred over text-based designs and that while task-completion rates are better for the rich multimedia UI, speed is faster and less assistance is required on the spoken-dialog system.

© All rights reserved Medhi et al. and/or ACM Press

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Findlater, Leah, Balakrishnan, Ravin and Toyama, Kentaro (2009): Comparing semiliterate and illiterate users' ability to transition from audio+text to text-only interaction. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2009 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2009. pp. 1751-1760.

Multimodal interfaces with little or no text have been shown to be useful for users with low literacy. However, this research has not differentiated between the needs of the fully illiterate and semiliterate -- those who have basic literacy but cannot read and write fluently. Text offers a fast and unambiguous mode of interaction for literate users and the exposure to text may allow for incidental improvement of reading skills. We conducted two studies that explore how semiliterate users with very little education might benefit from a combination of text and audio as compared to illiterate and literate users. Results show that semiliterate users reduced their use of audio support even during the first hour of use and over several hours this reduction was accompanied by a gain in visual word recognition; illiterate users showed no similar improvement. Semiliterate users should thus be treated differently from illiterate users in interface design.

© All rights reserved Findlater et al. and/or ACM Press

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Chen, Jay, Subramanian, Lakshminarayanan and Toyama, Kentaro (2009): Web search and browsing behavior under poor connectivity. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2009 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2009. pp. 3473-3478.

Web search and browsing have been streamlined for a comfortable experience when the network connection is fast. Existing tools, however, are not optimized for scenarios where connectivity is poor, as is the case for many users in developing regions where fast connections are expensive, rare, or unavailable. This study examined how users' web search and browsing behavior differs when the connection is slow, and whether users employ techniques to alleviate the problem. In a preliminary study involving 15 subjects on a university campus in Kerala, India, we identify unique mitigating behaviors of users who routinely suffer low-bandwidth or intermittent connections. We examine the challenges faced by these users and find that existing web search and browsing infrastructure is simply incapable of providing a good experience. Finally we outline potential design improvements.

© All rights reserved Chen et al. and/or ACM Press

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Sambasivan, Nithya, Ho, Melissa, Kam, Matthew, Kodagoda, Neesha, Dray, Susan M., Thomas, John C., Light, Ann and Toyama, Kentaro (2009): Human-centered computing in international development. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2009 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2009. pp. 4745-4750.

This workshop continues the dialog on exploring the challenges in applying, extending, and inventing appropriate methods and contributions of Humancentered Computing (HCC) to International economic and community development, borne out of tremendously successful HCI4D workshops at CHI 2007 and 2008. The workshop aims at 1) providing a platform to discuss interaction design practices that allow for meaningful embedding of interactive systems in the cultural, infrastructural, and political settings where they will be used 2) addressing interaction design issues in developing regions, as well as areas in the developed world marginalized by poverty or other barriers. We hope to continue to extend the boundaries of the field of Human-centered Computing (HCC) by spurring on more discussion on how existing methods and practices can be adapted/ modified, and how new practices be developed, to combat.

© All rights reserved Sambasivan et al. and/or ACM Press

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Sambasivan, Nithya, Rangaswamy, Nimmi, Toyama, Kentaro and Nardi, Bonnie A. (2009): Encountering development ethnographically. In Interactions, 16 (6) pp. 20-23.

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Medhi, Indrani, Menon, Geeta and Toyama, Kentaro (2008): Challenges in computerized job search for the developing world. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2008 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems April 5-10, 2008. pp. 2079-2094.

We examine the broad challenges facing a computer-based system to help match low-income domestic workers from an urban slum with potential middle-class employers in Bangalore, India. Due to the near impossibility of implementing such a system in one shot, we first implemented a paper-based system that provides the intended functionality but without a computer. This system proved a significant challenge in itself, and among the lessons learned are the crucial role of human intermediaries (necessary even in the final computer-based system), the importance of building skills among the domestic workers, the need for a strong value proposition for both employers and employees well above existing systems, and the requirement of technological literacy. We then show that these lessons are applicable to other scenarios where computing technology is applied to developing-world challenges, by analyzing corresponding issues in related work. Our broad conclusion is that computer-based systems to solve developing-world problems often require significant work above and beyond an implementation of the technology, with trustworthy human intermediaries playing a critical role.

© All rights reserved Medhi et al. and/or ACM Press

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Prasad, Archana, Medhi, Indrani, Toyama, Kentaro and Balakrishnan, Ravin (2008): Exploring the feasibility of video mail for illiterate users. In: Levialdi, Stefano (ed.) AVI 2008 - Proceedings of the working conference on Advanced Visual Interfaces May 28-30, 2008, Napoli, Italy. pp. 103-110.

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Rangaswamy, Nimmi, Nair, Sumitra and Toyama, Kentaro (2008): "My tv is the family oven/toaster/grill": personalizing tv for the indian audience. In: Darnell, Michael J., Masthoff, Judith, Panabaker, Sheri, Sullivan, Marc and Lugmayr, Artur (eds.) UXTV 2008 - Proceeding of the 1st International Conference on Designing Interactive User Experiences for TV and Video October 22-24, 2008, Silicon Valley, California, USA. pp. 19-22.

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Pawar, Udai Singh, Pal, Joyojeet, Gupta, Rahul and Toyama, Kentaro (2007): Multiple mice for retention tasks in disadvantaged schools. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2007 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2007. pp. 1581-1590.

This study evaluates single-mouse and multiple-mice configurations for computer-aided learning in schools where access to computers is limited due to resource constraints. Multimouse, a single display groupware solution, developed to allow multiple mice to be used simultaneously on a single PC, is compared with single-user-single-mouse and multiple-user-single-mouse scenarios. Multimouse itself is trialed with two unique interaction designs -- one where competitive interaction among students is encouraged, and another where more collaborative interaction is expected. Experiments were conducted with 238 schoolchildren from underprivileged households in rural India on an English vocabulary retention task. On the whole, Multimouse configurations (five users each) were found to be at par with single-user scenarios in terms of actual words learned by students. This suggests that the value of a PC can be inexpensively multiplied by employing a multi-input shared-use design. Gender effects were found, where boys show significant differences in learning depending on interaction modality, whereas girls learned at similar rates across configurations. In addition, a comparison of the two Multimouse modes -- collaborative and competitive -- showed the striking difference in learning outcomes and user behavior that is possible due to even slight variations in interaction designs for multiple-mice.

© All rights reserved Pawar et al. and/or ACM Press

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Medhi, Indrani, Prasad, Archana and Toyama, Kentaro (2007): Optimal audio-visual representations for illiterate users of computers. In: Proceedings of the 2007 International Conference on the World Wide Web 2007. pp. 873-882.

We present research leading toward an understanding of the optimal audio-visual representation for illustrating concepts for illiterate and semi-literate users of computers. In our user study, which to our knowledge is the first of its kind, we presented to 200 illiterate subjects each of 13 different health symptoms in one representation randomly selected among the following ten: text, static drawings, static photographs, hand-drawn animations, and video, each with and without voice annotation. The goal was to see how comprehensible these representation types were for an illiterate audience. We used a methodology for generating each of the representations tested in a way that fairly stacks one representational type against the others. Our main results are that (1) voice annotation generally helps in speed of comprehension, but bimodal audio-visual information can be confusing for the target population; (2) richer information is not necessarily better understood overall; (3) the relative value of dynamic imagery versus static imagery depends on various factors. Analysis of these statistically significant results and additional detailed results are also provided.

© All rights reserved Medhi et al. and/or International World Wide Web Conference Committee

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Toyama, Kentaro (2007): Opening Keynote: The Advantages of Being There. In: Evers, Vanessa, Sturm, Christian, Rocha, Mario Alberto Moreno, Martnez, Edgar Cambranes and Mandl, Thomas (eds.) Designing for Global Markets 8 - IWIPS 2007 - Proceedings of the Eighth International Workshop on Internationalisation of Products and Systems 28-30 June, 2007, Merida, Mexico. p. 2.

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Prasad, Archana, Blagsvedt, Sean Olin and Toyama, Kentaro (2007): SMSBlogging: blog-on-the-street public art project. In: Lienhart, Rainer, Prasad, Anand R., Hanjalic, Alan, Choi, Sunghyun, Bailey, Brian P. and Sebe, Nicu (eds.) Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Multimedia 2007 September 24-29, 2007, Augsburg, Germany. pp. 501-504.

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Adabala, Neeharika, Varma, Manik and Toyama, Kentaro (2007): Computer aided generation of stylized maps. In Journal of Visualization and Computer Animation, 18 (2) pp. 133-140.

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Parikh, Tapan S., Javid, Paul, K., A Sasikumar, Ghosh, Kaushik and Toyama, Kentaro (2006): Mobile phones and paper documents: evaluating a new approach for capturing microfinance data in rural India. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2006 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2006. pp. 551-560.

CAM is a user interface toolkit that allows a camera-equipped mobile phone to interact with paper documents. It is designed to automate inefficient, paper-intensive information processes in the developing world. In this paper we present a usability evaluation of an application built using CAM for collecting data from microfinance groups in rural India. This application serves an important and immediate need in the microfinance industry. Our quantitative results show that the user interface is efficient, accurate and can quickly be learned by rural users. The results were competitive with an equivalent PC-based UI. Qualitatively, the interface was found easy to use by almost all users. This shows that, with a properly designed user interface, mobile phones can be a preferred platform for many rural computing applications. Voice feedback and numeric data entry were particularly well-received by users. We are conducting a pilot of this application with 400 microfinance groups in India.

© All rights reserved Parikh et al. and/or ACM Press

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Pal, Joyojeet, Pawar, Udai Singh, Brewer, Eric A. and Toyama, Kentaro (2006): The case for multi-user design for computer aided learning in developing regions. In: Proceedings of the 2006 International Conference on the World Wide Web 2006. pp. 781-789.

Computer-aided learning is fast gaining traction in developing regions as a means to augment classroom instruction. Reasons for using computer-aided learning range from supplementing teacher shortages to starting underprivileged children off in technology, and funding for such initiatives range from state education funds to international agencies and private groups interested in child development. The interaction of children with computers is seen at various levels, from unsupervised self-guided learning at public booths without specific curriculum to highly regulated in-class computer applications with modules designed to go with school curriculum. Such learning is used at various levels from children as young as 5 year-old to high-schoolers. This paper uses field observations of primary school children in India using computer-aided learning modules, and finds patterns by which children who perform better in classroom activities seat themselves in front of computer monitors, and control the mouse, in cases where children are required to share computer resources. We find that in such circumstances, there emerges a pattern of learning, unique to multi-user environments -- wherein certain children tend to learn better because of their control of the mouse. This research also shows that while computer aided learning software for children is primarily designed for single-users, the implementation realities of resource-strapped learning environments in developing regions presents a strong case for multi-user design.

© All rights reserved Pal et al. and/or ACM Press

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Toyama, Kentaro, Logan, Ron and Roseway, Asta (2003): Geographic location tags on digital images. In: Rowe, Lawrence A., Vin, Harrick M., Plagemann, Thomas, Shenoy, Prashant J. and Smith, John R. (eds.) Proceedings of the Eleventh ACM International Conference on Multimedia November 2-8, 2003, Berkeley, CA, USA. pp. 156-166.

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