The developing world is hard on electronic devices. Power surges and muggy weather can break computers and phones quickly. Better engineering might solve many of these problems.

But hardware designers aren’t sure exactly what aspects of life in a developing country are the cause of the most problems. Is it dust? Heat? Carelessness? And they don’t know what customers in these parts of the world value most in a device. Low cost? A screen that they can read in the sun? A power sipper?

For answers, researchers have developed a survey for customers and practitioners of ICT for development. Laura Hosman at the Illinois Institute of Technology has teamed with Inveneo and USAID to create the survey, and Hosman and her colleagues will gather the results into a white paper for the hardware industry. Hosman has been deeply involved in the ICT for development sector, doing interesting work in solar power and laptops in Haiti and long-distance Wi-Fi in Micronesia.

“Technology has not been appropriately designed for the developing world and once it gets there, it too frequently fails or breaks prematurely, or just doesn’t match the local needs,” Hosman told E4C.

“The paper will incorporate the findings from this survey as well as from in-depth interviews that have taken place with experts, practitioners, academics and end- users around the globe,” Hosman says.

USAID and Inveneo plan to make the paper publicly available and distribute it among technology companies. It should be published in the late spring of 2014.

To prompt participation in the survey, Inveneo has offered takers the chance to win a Google Nexus 7 tablet. The tablet winner will be announced on March 6.

Please take the survey here.

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