The role of Internet and Communication Technology (ICT) in
bringing about a revolution in almost all aspects of human life needs no
introduction. It is indeed a well-known fact that the transmission of
information at a rapid pace has transformed all spheres of human life such as
education, health, and economy to name a few. In addition, with the advent in
Electronics and Photonics Technology (EPT), we have observed sustained growth
and expansion in computation and display technology. From user demography
perspective, urbanized population are the major beneficiary of such advances.
Therefore, the benefits of ICT and EPT are yet to be experienced by almost 4
billion people in the world who are still “unconnected or under-connected” and
suffer as such from the “digital divide,” a term coined in order to emphasize
the lack of ICT infrastructure in many parts of the world.
Major challenges for widespread adoption of ICT and EPT in
these areas are related to cost, lack of power supply, and complexities
associated with learning and usage. However, if we can categorically overcome
these challenges, then these technologies can be used for food, water, shelter,
energy, environment, education, healthcare, and security. In addition, the
wide-spread availability of these technologies, will lead to smart suburbs,
smart towns, smart villages, etc., without the need to necessarily live in
smart cities. This would reverse the trend and allow a more sustainable world
with a more balanced distribution of the population density. In this context,
this talk will present recently proposed solutions to provide high speed
connectivity in rural areas along progress in affordable electronics to serve
and contribute to the development of far-flung regions.
In particular, new solutions for both: (i) integrated
satellite-airborne-ground networks providing global coverage and connectivity
and (ii) terrestrial mesh/multi-hop directive networks connecting underserved
areas will be discussed.
Moreover, some examples of democratized wearable
electronics using Do-It-Yourself (DIY) assembly of paper along Android DIY
applications capturing and displaying vital health signs over connected
smartphones for real-time diagnosis will be presented.