Kiosk Evangelist

Evangelists praise the Internet for its power to reach unbelievers, but what about the billions of people who don’t have online access? The Holly Springs, North Carolina-based RoleModel Software recently bypassed that obstacle by helping a client develop tools for reaching unbelievers in the remotest corners of the globe — through cell phones.

“We’re using the Internet to jump past the Internet,” said Stephen Keel, president of Kiosk Evangelism, a company that uses 42-inch flat panel kiosks to distribute Christian materials. “This is bleeding edge activity. We’re hoping to get Christian content to over 3 billion people who have cell phones but no toilets.”

The process is simple: users remove the micro-SD cards from their cell phones and plug them into the kiosk, gaining access to 20,000 sermons, music, films, Bibles, and other Christian resources in 4,000 languages. RoleModel helped Keel develop a prototype system which detects the presence of various media devices such as a card, allows the user to easily search for content that is interesting and relevant to them, and download the requested information.

“We went from concept to working prototype in two months with a very small budget, and we expect the product to be released for early adapters before the end of the year,” said RoleModel president Ken Auer.

RoleModel’s signature development method also accelerated the process. The initially specified kiosk interface proved impractical, but RoleModel’s programmers made changes on the fly, even though they required overseas communication.

“Stephen attended a technology show in the Dominican Republic to demonstrate the prototype, but once we added content from Global Recording Networks in over 3,000 languages right before the show, it was clear that users would have a difficult time navigating the system,” Auer said. “So we made changes in the last week — even the last few hours — before the premiere, testing it on a local machine in North Carolina and deploying the software instantaneously to the prototype kiosk in the Dominican Republic.”

RoleModel’s agile development technique helped Keel get better value in tough economic times, too. The approach builds value into the product right out of the gate and allows for responsive changes, unlike other engineering techniques that are long on planning but short on immediate results.

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