I came across txteagle just two weeks ago. After a bit of research I realised that the Economist had an article about them half a year ago, please find the link attached. Here’s a short summary.

The basics: Three quarters of the mobile phone users worldwide live in developing countries. In those countries, access to the Internet is very limited (18%). But more than 50% of the people own a mobile phone.

The idea: txteagle is a service, which provides mobile crowdsourcing. They usually split a big job into small tasks and send them to lots of people around the world. These people answer the questions, fill out a survey or help with translations. In the end, the participants get paid via the mobile phone, for example in vouchers for electricity or additional phone credit.

An example: Nokia tried to translate all mobile user manuals into the 60 local languages of Kenya. What does “network” or “flight mode” mean? In the past, there may have been 100 translators travelling around the country, and it would have taken an awfully long time. With txteagle, they just texted single terms to around 20,000 people. Within minutes they got answers back. To secure quality, they counted every answer individually and the most common answer ended up in the manual.

The same principle works with pictures and of course with voice mail. You might need a letter to a client typed up: You dictate it, send it to txteagle, where it gets hacked into phrases and sent e.g. to shepherds in Lagos or maybe the Sahara. They type the text down and send it straight back. The txteagle system puts the finished text together and sends it back to you.

The benefits: It is incredibly fast & cheap because you don’t have to use experts anymore, you just trust the crowd. Literally, txteagle works day & night around the globe so you will always get fast responses. And the entire idea makes the biggest difference to people in developing countries because now they can get another income while doing their day-to-day work.

Now if you consider outsourcing translating or typing work you might not necessarily find your best solution in Mumbai anymore. This technology might soon improve your company efficiencies or even open up new business opportunities.