Three Ghanaians have made an impression in design concepts for Nokia phones.

The Ghanaians were among the about fifteen of millions around the world who submitted

In a trial of a mobile phone application called Sports Tracker, which researchers posted on a company web site to let runners and cyclists take advantage of the global positioning capability in some Nokia models, researchers have been surprised by the huge response.

Following the success of Sports Tracker Nokia launched its Beta Lab web site to experiment with user-generated innovation. The site enables visitors to test latest smartphone software.

In a report published in Businessweek, it said Beta Labs is part of a broader push by Nokia to harness customers and partners in the service of innovation. And over the past year, Nokia designers have traveled to the developing world to ask users to sketch their own dream cell phones. By yearend, more than half the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas, so to exploit this mega-trend Nokia’s researchers visited shantytowns in Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro, and Accra in Ghana.

One person’s design included a sensor to test water quality—a potentially useful application in some emerging markets—while another person wanted a handset that flashed the word “Peace” to help defuse conflicts. A London-based Nokia senior design manager, Younghee Jung was quoted by the publication as saying “Our fear was people would come up with ideas that already existed, like a phone with a camera. But people’s suggestions were much more creative.”

The designs of three Ghanaians including a pastor were selected. The three were identified only by their first names. They are Sam, an artist, whose all-in-one device included a DVD, cable TV and a mini laptop, Joseph the pastor, whose design includes a three-hour video recording feature and displays Bible verses when the phone is turned off and Alexander, a computer student whose design is suited for people with vision problems. The phone has voice-aided key pads that read the inscriptions when pressed. The phone is also shaped liked a foot which he says symbolizes progress.

One person’s design included a sensor to test water quality—a potentially useful application in some emerging markets—while another person wanted a handset that flashed the word “Peace” to help defuse conflicts. “Our fear was people would come up with ideas that already existed, like a phone with a camera. But people’s suggestions were much more creative.

There were designs from other parts of the world.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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