Optimising the question box for cost and local-manufacturability

Rose Shuman, Jooyoung Kim, Paul Gardner-Stephen

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The Question Box is a ruggedized cellular phone-booth designed to allow low-income communities the ability to access expert advice on a variety of topics, free of charge. This simple concept enables such consultation irrespective of income or literacy level, and has proven its value in deployments in rural India and in Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis. The system consists primarily of the Question Box hardware. The complexity of the existing Question Box design, however, means that the principle barrier to wider deployment is cost (several hundred dollars per unit), and the infeasibility of being manufactured locally. In this paper we present a redesign of the Question Box, reducing the internal components to a low-cost Android smart phone and headphones, four switches, three resistors and a weather-proof box, combined with a simple custom Android application. This design is validated through the construction of a prototype Question Box in approximately two hours, and using approximately $90, including smart-phone. We thus establish that it is possible to build a Question Box for under $100, requiring only components likely to be available in-country, and create the opportunity for wider deployment, and thus improved impact of the Question Box.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2017
Event2017 IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC) - San Jose, United States
Duration: 19 Oct 201722 Oct 2017


Conference2017 IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC)
Abbreviated titleGHTC 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Jose


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