May 19 - Tech innovators and app designers attending the recent ''Apps For Asia - Redesigning Development'' program in Uttar Pradesh, say technology holds the answer to many of Asia's poverty-related problems. The program was created by the Asian Development Bank and Microsoft to bring new solutions for improving the lives of millions across the continent. Jim Drury reports.
Despite huge economic advances in recent years, Asia remains a continent mired in poverty. But app developers there believe they have the solution, in smartphone technology they say can improve quality of life for the millions affected. Fifteen of the top apps were showcased at the recent "Apps For Asia - Redesigning Development" exhibition in India. Among them was Blue Clover, a food management app for diabetics, co-designed by Donald Zhang. SOUNDBITE (English) DONALD ZHANG OF TRINARY LOGIC, AUSTRALIA, SAYING: "You take a photo and then it recognizes the food. It does this by comparing it against a whole list of photos we have on our food database. Right now the database we're using is a large database of Australian foods, but by simply changing the database the application will work in India or any other country." This online log-book enables users to rapidly record and monitor their eating patterns, via barcode scanning or a database of product images. It also warns users when their glucose levels are low and if necessary, alerts emergency contacts. Developers Trinary Logic hope it will empower diabetics in developing countries to monitor themselves, instead of depending on medical services which are often unreliable. Filipino designer Joel Barquez's app, Blood Donor Network, is designed to link blood donors with people in need of blood transfusions. The app works by targeting donors based on locality and blood type. SOUNDBITE (English) 'BLOOD DONOR NETWORK' APP DESIGNER, JOEL BARQUEZ FROM THE PHILIPPINES, SAYING: "Basically the application does a crowd-source through a web and mobile application, crowd-source for blood. The advantage is that it saves time as well as money on the part of the patient." Mapi's designers believe their pedestrian navigation app has huge potential in regions afflicted by poor infrastructure. Integrating GPS technology with smart phone cameras, users navigate themselves on foot, plotting their own journey or receiving directions from others. The "Apps for Asia" programme was created by the Asian Development Bank and Microsoft. And while access to smartphone technology is still beyond the reach of nearly two billion people in the region, the developers believes costs will eventually come down to the point where all of Asi a can benefit.