About

dsc_0054I am an HCI/ICTD researcher interested in design for under-served communities at the cusp of technology. Currently, I work at Google as a researcher, working with product teams to improve the experience for people in resource-constrained environments. Further, I am interested in technology design for marginalized communities and climate change in developing regions. I have done extensive fieldwork in India, and research in Ghana, Indonesia, Philippines, Kenya, Uganda, and Mexico.

Examples of projects include public Wi-Fi in 400 train stations in India; caching solutions like Accelerator in SE Asia; and mobile data transparency like SmartBrowse in Ghana. Previously, I worked at Google Access and Google.org, with the Access, Civics, and Energy teams. My research has resulted in Google’s official guidance for Android and Web developers for emerging markets.

I graduated with a Ph.D. from University of California, Irvine and an MS from Georgia Tech. My Ph.D. was funded by ICS Dean’s fellowship and Google Anita Borg scholarship. I have interned at Microsoft Research India, Nokia Research Center in Tampere, and IBM TJ Watson Research Center in Hawthorne.


I used to co-write a world music blog.

News

  • I am editing a new column on ICTD in ACM Interactions, called The Next Billion. If you are interested in contributing, send me a note!
  • Upcoming talks:
    • MIT Media Lab, Feb 2017
    • Stanford HCI lunch, Mar 2017
    • UC Berkeley iSchool, Apr 2017
    • CHI, May 2017
    • Google I/O (with Astrid Weber), May 2017

Publications

Award publications
Dye, M., Nemer, D., Pina, L., Sambasivan, N., Bruckman, A. and Kumar, N. Locating the Internet in the Parks of Havana. Proc. of ACM conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (SIGCHI), 2017 (camera-ready PDF) [Best of CHI honourable mention]

Sambasivan, N., Lee, P., Hecht, G., Aoki, P.M., Carrera, M.-I., Chen, J.,  Youssefmir, M., Cohn, D.P.,  Kruskall, P.,  Wetchler,  E. and Larssen, A.T. SmartBrowse: Design and Evaluation of a Mobile Data Price Transparency Tool for Mobile Web Use. Information Technology & International Development 11 (1), Spring 2015, 21-40. [“Best of ICTD” special issue paper] [PDF] 

Sambasivan, N. and Cutrell, E. Understanding negotiation in airtime sharing in low-income microenterprises. Proc. of ACM conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (SIGCHI), 2012. (Acceptance rate: 23%) [Best of CHI honourable mention] [PDF]

Sambasivan, N., Cutrell, E., and Weber, J. S. Designing a Phone Broadcasting System for Urban Sex Workers in India. Proc. of ACM conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (SIGCHI), 2011. (Acceptance rate: 26%) [Best of CHI honourable mention] [PDF]

Sambasivan, N., Cutrell, E., Toyama, K. and Nardi, B. Intermediated Technology Use in Developing Communities. In Proc. of ACM conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (SIGCHI), 2010. pp. 2583-2592 (Acceptance rate: 22%) [Best of CHI honourable mention] [PDF]

Conference papers (peer-reviewed)
Sambasivan, N. and Aoki, P.M. Imagined Connectivities: Synthesized Conceptions of Public Wi-Fi in Urban India. Proc. of ACM conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (SIGCHI), 2017 (camera-ready PDF)

Sambasivan, N., Azad, G., Aoki, P.M. and Mitra, S.S. “We call it Hi-Fi”: Exposing Indian Households to High Speed Broadband Wireless Internet. Proc. of Int’l Conf. on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD), 2016. [PDF]

Sambasivan, N., Lee, P., Hecht, G., Aoki, P.M., Carrera, M.-I., Chen, J.,  Youssefmir, M., Cohn, D.P.,  Kruskall, P.,  Wetchler,  E. and Larssen, A.T. Chale, How Much it Cost to Browse? Results from a Mobile Data Price Transparency Trial in Ghana. Proc. Int’l Conf. on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD), 2013, 13-23. (Acceptance rate: 25%) [PDF]

Cervantes, R., Warschauer, M., Nardi, B. and Sambasivan, N. Infrastructures for low-cost laptop use in Mexican schools. Proc. of ACM conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (SIGCHI), 2011. (Acceptance rate: 26%) [PDF]

Sambasivan, N. and Smyth, T. The Human Infrastructure in ICTD. In Proc. of ACM/IEEE Interactional Conference on Information and Commmunication Technologies for Development (ICTD) 2010. (Acceptance rate: 39%) [PDF]

Light, A., Ladeira, I., Roberson, J., Bidwell, N. J., Rangaswamy, N., Sambasivan, N. and Gitau, S. Gender Matters: Female Perspectives in ICT4D Research. In Proc. of ACM/IEEE Interactional Conference on Information and Commmunication Technologies for Development (ICTD), 2010. (Acceptance rate: 39%) [PDF]

Sambasivan, N., Cutrell, E. and Toyama, K. ViralVCD: Tracing Information-Diffusion Paths with Low Cost Media in Developing Communities. In Proc. of ACM conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (SIGCHI), 2010. pp. 2583-2592 (Acceptance rate: 22%) [PDF]

Sambasivan, N., Rangaswamy, N., Cutrell, E. and Nardi, B. Ubicomp4D: Interaction and Infrastructure for International Development-The Case of Urban Indian Slums. In Proc. of ACM Conference on Ubiquitous Computing (UBICOMP), Orlando, Florida. pp. 155-164 (Acceptance rate: 12.5%) [PDF]

Sambasivan, N., Ventä, L., Mäntyjärvi, J., Isomursu, M., Jonna Häkkilä, J. Designing for Social Context of Mobility: Mobile Applications for Always-on Users. In Proc. of Australian Computer-Human Interaction conference (OzCHI), 2009 [PDF]

Sambasivan, N., Jackson M.M., Design of Pervasive Brain-computer Interfaces, In Proc. of the 3rd Symposium on Usability and HCI in Medicine, Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS), 2007.

Dissertation
Production of Use: Reconceptualizing “the User” in Low-income Communities in Urban India, 2012, University of California [pdf]

Book chapters (peer-reviewed)
Dray, S. M., Light, A. E., Evers, V., Dearden, A., Densmore, M., Kam, M., Marsden, G., Ramachandran, D., Sambasivan, N., Smyth, T., Gruenen, D., and Winters, N. Human Computer Interaction for Development: Changing HCI to Change the World. Jacko, J. A. (Ed.). Human computer interaction handbook: Fundamentals, evolving technologies, and emerging applications. 2012. CRC press. [preprint PDF]

Journal articles (peer-reviewed)
Sambasivan. N. and Rangaswamy, N. Cutting Chai, Jugaad, and Here Pheri: towards UbiComp for a global community. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing. Special issue on the Digital Divide edited by Matt Jones and Gary Marsden. 15 (6), 2011. pp. 553-564 [PDF]

Magazine & prominent blog articles
Google Africa, 2014. https://africa.googleblog.com/2014/06/chale-how-much-does-it-cost-to-browse.html

Sambasivan, N. and Gitau, S. ICTD special issue for ACM Crossroads. December 2012. [PDF]

Sambasivan, N., Rangaswamy, N., Toyama, K., and Nardi, B. Encountering Development Ethnographically. ACM Interactions. XVI.6. 2009, pp. 20-23 [PDF]

Panels & workshops
Dimond, J., Gitau, S., Hamel, Y., Hudachek-Buswell,M., Lapsansky, C., Madhavi, B., Moolman, J., Sambasivan, N. and Shackleton, S. Take Back The Tech: A Feminist and Techie Dialogue on Taking Control of Technology to End Violence against Women, at the Grace Hopper Conference, Atlanta, 2010 [PDF]

Ladeira, I., Ramachandran, D., Sambasivan, N., Weber, J., Women researching Women–Gateways to Socio-economic Development, at the Grace Hopper Conference, Tuscon, Arizona, 2009 [PDF]

Sambasivan, N., Ho, M., Kam, M., Dray, S., Thomas, J.C., Light, A., Toyama, K., Human-centered Computing in International Development, In Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (SIGCHI), U.S.A., 2009 [PDF]

Thomas, J., Dearden, A., Dray, S., Light, A., Best, M., Arkin, N., Maunder, A., Kam, M., Chetty, M., Sambasivan, N., Buckhalter, C., and Krishnan, G. 2008. HCI for Community and International Development. In Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (SIGCHI) 2008, Florence, Italy [PDF]

Dearden A., Light A., Dray S., Thomas, J.C., Best, M., Sambasivan N., Greenblatt D., Krishnan G. and Pittman C. (2007). Sharing Perspectives on Community-Centered Design and International Development. In Proc. of the eleventh International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (INTERACT). Rio De Janeiro, Brazil [PDF]

Dearden A., Light A., Dray S., Thomas, J.C., Best, M., Sambasivan N., Greenblatt D., Krishnan G., Pittman C., User-Centered Design and International Development, in Extended Abstracts of Human Factors in Computing Systems (SIGCHI), San Jose, USA, April, 2007. [PDF]

Selected talks

Designing for the Next Billion Users: Accessibility UX Insights from Emerging Markets
Google I/O, 2017

Designing for human systems in resource-constrained areas
UC Berkeley iSchool, 2017
MIT Media Lab, 2017

Embracing infrastructure constraints in the Global South
UC Berkeley ICTD,  2017
BayCHI, 2017
Georgia Tech GVU, 2017
Institute for the future, 2017
Stanford HCI, 2017

Technology research in emerging markets
UC Berkeley ICTD, 2017
Georgia Tech ICTD, 2017
Google ICTD workshop, 2016
DePaul University, 2016
ITAM Mexico, 2015
Inaugural HCI lecture at Kofi Annan Center, Ghana, 2012

Enabling access in India and Ghana
University of Michigan, 2016

Research in resource-constrained environments
Google I/O, 2016

The 6C framework for product design in emerging markets
Google I/O, 2015

Designing mobile technologies for social impact
Liberation Technologies seminar @ Stanford, 2013

Service

UN working group on women and digital inclusion
CHI 2018, Co-chair, Workshops
CSCW 2017, 2018 AC
CHI 2014, 2017 AC
DEV 2015, 2016 PC
ICTD 2015, 2016, 2017 PC
Reviewer: Anita Borg scholarships
Reviewer: Google research awards (2012 – present)
Reviewer: CHI, CSCW, UbiComp, ITID journal, ICTD, PUC