Bengaluru-based Embassy Group has embarked on a new smart lifestyle project with the launch of Embassy Edge, an integral part of Embassy Springs – the city’s biggest and best-planned, self-sustained community. With this, Embassy Group has entered into a new housing segment after making its mark in the luxury category of properties. These smart homes will be Alexa-enabled and come preinstalled with an Amazon Echo device.

Image Source – Embassy Group

Strategically located 9 kms from the Bengaluru International Airport, this newly launched project comprises of 1 BHK, 2 BHK, 2.5 BHK and 3 BHK apartments that range from 607 sq ft. to 1406 sq ft. with price range starting from Rs. 36 Lakhs onwards. Each unit is functionally planned with well-designed layouts that ensure the optimum usage of space and an uninterrupted view of the landscaped gardens. Embassy Edge is targeted towards the first-time home-buyers. Spread across 36 acres, the Phase 1 of Embassy Edge will offer home-buyers 800+ apartments spread across 5 towers in 12 acres.

Futuristic homes

This new launch will be a landmark project that will not only mark the Embassy Group’s foray into a new housing segment, but it will also bring cutting-edge technology to all its homes using Amazon Echo devices. Echo devices are smart speakers powered by the Alexa Voice Service, which can turn living spaces into voice-enabled smart homes. Embassy Edge residents will be able to control smart home appliances, play music, and even order products from by just speaking to Alexa.

Besides the at-home command capabilities, the Alexa voice service can also be accessed via smartphones, making it a perfect control and command centre, even when residents are away. The combination of Amazon Echo and Alexa will enable limitless social integration possibilities for the residents of Embassy Edge. Residents will be able to experience the future of community living where homeowners can interact with each other, set up society meetings in the community, monitor movements, book cabs, order food and buy groceries – using just? th?eir voice. Additionally, Amazon Echo devices can also enable residents to have greener lifestyle by automating their homes to optimize the energy consumption.

Mr. Jitu Virwani, Chairman and Managing Director, Embassy Group, Ms. Reeza Sebastian, Senior Vice-President – Residential Business, Embassy Group and Mr. Puneesh Kumar, Country Manager for Alexa Experience & Devices, Amazon India

Commenting on the group’s entry into the mid-level segment, Jitu Virwani, Chairman and Managing Director, Embassy Group said

Following our success with luxury homes, we were keen to make our brand accessible to everyone. True to its name, Embassy Edge provides the much-needed smart home automation to the well-informed, modern home-buyers. Being the first in real estate to bring this integration of voice-enabled homes in India, we believe that this will revolutionize the residential sector. We will be replicating this concept in our other residential projects across micro markets. We are very happy to provide Amazon Echo experience to residents and better our offerings here at Embassy.

Puneesh Kumar, Country Manager for Alexa Experience & Devices, Amazon India, said

Walking around the home and giving voice commands to control smart home appliances or getting information may seem straight out of a sci-fi movie. That’s where Alexa comes in and makes it extremely easy to automate your home using your voice. We are delighted to see Embassy Group’s initiative to offer Alexa-enabled smart homes to customers.

Customers can experience the magic of Alexa-enabled smartphones at Embassy Springs by walking-in or scheduling an appointment.

Integrated Township – Living in a City within a City

Embassy Edge is an integral part of the 288-acre Embassy Springs, the biggest and the best planned city, in the investment hotbed of North Bengaluru. The Integrated Township property offers 188 acres of plots, 36 acres of apartments, 22 acres of villas and row houses; 20 acres of community facilities like a club and school, 34 acres of commercial and retail space. This Integrated Township is like a mini city within a city providing various amenities within a short radius.

Embassy Springs with its strategic and well planned Integrated Townships offers a sense of oneness and community living that is very essential today. It is a home for like-minded people to invest in homes close to one another so that their social circuit is complete. This will result in a cohesive living experience and better emotional health, which are essential for the present-day lifestyle.

Ms. Reeza Sebastian, Senior Vice-President – Residential Business, Embassy Group said

We are delighted to launch the much-awaited Embassy Edge apartments, which is a part of our large Integrated Township, Embassy Springs. With its futuristic features, strategic location in North Bangalore, large expansive space within a community makes Embassy Edge a sound investment opportunity for the aspirational home buyers and millennials who view technology as an enhancement to daily life. We are offering an experience of our Embassy Edge voice enabled homes, with a walk through of our model apartment on site. It is encouraging to see the already increasing interest received for these future ready homes.

MoneyOnMobile, Inc., one of India’s largest mobile phone-based payment networks, announced the launch of a new biometric-based ATM cash-out solution. In the initial phase, the company activated 3,000 units, and expects another 3,000 activations in the coming months. Prior to launch MoneyOnMobile had 5,000 MOM ATM units operating in the field.

This new biometric MOM ATM leverages both the Open Banking APIs of our banking partners and the Indian government’s national identity system known as Aadhaar. Consumers can receive cash from their bank account by scanning their fingerprint on the new biometric reader – the fingerprint is linked to the consumer’s bank account, and substitutes for the debit card. Participating MOM Merchants provide the cash from their till just as they do when using the company’s existing MOM ATM and a debit card swipe. MoneyOnMobile’s payment platform connects our retailers to our banking partners and the Aadhaar system making the entire transaction seamless.

The Aadhaar Enabled Payment System [AePS], a Government of India initiative, was launched to empower a bank’s customer to use Aadhaar as his/her identity to access their Aadhaar linked bank account. Using AePS, the bank account holder can perform basic banking transactions like cash deposit, cash withdrawal and balance inquiry.

Harold Montgomery, CEO and Chairman, MoneyOnMobile, said

Our goal for 2018 is to expand our MOM ATM product line and the total number of deployments, and this biometric-based MOM ATM cash-out solution is a strong step towards achieving that goal. Before the rollout we had roughly 5,000 MOM ATM units operating. We expect that this figure will go well beyond 11,000 with the new biometric-based MOM ATM in the coming months, and bring us closer to our goal of having 30,000 MOM ATM units operating by the end of 2019.

Ranjeet Oak, Head–India Operations, MoneyOnMobile said

The launch of AePS-based biometric service by MoneyOnMobile, will enable our underbanked consumers to have easy and quick access to their bank accounts just by visiting one of our enabled retail partners spread across 700 plus cities across India. As this service was much awaited by our retailers, we are pleased that we were able to swiftly adapt to their recommendations.

Will Dawson, Chief Operating Officer, MoneyOnMobile, said

We are excited to launch this AePS-based MOM ATM to add yet another service which will provide last mile financial services to the over 600 million under-banked consumers in India.   Our retailers, as well as MoneyOnMobile, earn revenue based on the size of the cash-out transaction, resulting in a positive impact on our MOM ATM revenue.

The process for a consumer to withdraw cash using an AePS-based MOM ATM is similar to the current handheld MOM ATM, but instead of handing over a card that is swiped through a machine, the customer places their fingerprint on a biometric reader. Once the system authenticates their ID, the retailer can process their cash-out request in the same manner as the handheld MOM ATM.

About MoneyOnMobile, Inc.

MoneyOnMobile, Inc. is an India focused mobile payments technology and processing company offering mobile payment services. MoneyOnMobile enables Indian consumers to use mobile phones to pay for goods and services or transfer funds from one cell phone to another. It can be used as simple SMS text functionality or through the MoneyOnMobile application or internet site. MoneyOnMobile has more than 350,000 retail locations throughout India. For more information, please visit MoneyOnMobile, Inc.

Intel India and the Israel Consulate General to South India have announced their collaboration to drive innovation and technology development by connecting startups and enterprises of both countries.

Image Source – Intel

As a part of the initiative, Intel India will extend Intel India Maker Lab [its in-house hardware/systems-based startups accelerator in India] capabilities to Israeli startups to support development of products and solutions. In addition, it will provide mentorship, and connect the Israeli startups to India market requirements and opportunities to test and deploy solutions in the India market.

In turn, the Israeli technology ecosystem, which has strong business acumen, specifically with regard to new usage models and future technologies, will make their knowledge and technical capabilities available to the Indian startup ecosystem. This will be accomplished through trainings and workshops.

Dana Kursh, Consulate General of Israel to South India and Nivruti Rai, Country Head, Intel India, & Vice President, Data Center Group, Intel Corporation, signing the MOU in Bengaluru. 23rd May 2018

The collaboration also entails academia involvement through the Israel Center at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore [IIMB], which will provide its students access to engage with both the Indian and Israeli technology ecosystem. IIMB will also help conduct seminars and workshops for entrepreneurs from both countries.

Nivruti Rai, Country Head, Intel India, & Vice President, Data Center Group, Intel Corporation, said

Intel and Israel share a very strong culture of innovation and hunger to innovate. We have continuously strived to deliver cutting-edge technologies that impact the world. Intel is celebrating its 50th year of innovation journey and it is an exciting moment for us to be collaborating with the Israel Consulate to accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship in both the countries. The natural synergies that exist between the Indian and Israeli ecosystems, will help us drive innovation to deliver solutions for these markets, and for the world.

Dana Kursh, Consulate General of Israel to South India, said

This year marks Israel’s 70 years of “heritage of innovation”, and India has been a key partner on this exciting journey. The Consulate of Israel to South India’s mission is to strengthen the Indo-Israeli bilateral and economic ties. Choosing to sign this MOU with Intel India as a highlight around Israel’s 70th Independence Day will bring us closer to achieving our mission.  We are honored to be part of this collaboration that so intrinsically combines the values and strengths of India, Israel and Intel to advance innovation through these two vibrant technological ecosystems. We look forward to working closely with Intel and the India technology ecosystem in this endeavor.

Zinnov, a global management consulting and strategy firm, have released a sequel to its 2016 report on the Domain Name Industry in India, titled, State of the Domain Name Industry in India. The released report is aimed at tracking the Domain Name Industry in India as it is an integral element of the growing Internet ecosystem in the country.

Image Source – Domains

In 2017, the domain name industry in India has grown by 7.1% YoY as compared to 0.9% globally, taking the total industry count to 5.3 million in India versus 332 million globally, as of December 2017. Detailing the findings, the report threw up a few surprising numbers

  • 48% of the total registered domain names in India are used for creating a website,
  • 9-11% of them are used for professional emails,
  • about 9% of the domains are utilized for creating mobile-enabled websites.

Additionally, the study by Zinnov, when aiming to understand the awareness and adoption of domain names among 200 SMBs across 3 Indian cities, discovered that 75% of the SMBs bought a domain name based on their ‘Company Name, while 85% of the SMBs used digital payment methods [Debit/Credit cards/Net Banking] to purchase the domain names. Over 70% of the SMBs showed a preference for .com over other TLDs. The major reasons for this preference are trust, global standards, and a professional image.

Speaking about the report, Pari Natarajan, CEO, Zinnov,said

Technology continues to be one of the major transformative factors driving the Indian economy. Initiatives led by the Indian government to improve the digital infrastructure and hasten adoption of digital services, coupled with increasing Internet user base and a flourishing base of technology-enabled SMBs, have helped India witness a faster growth in domain name adoption. This has helped India outpace the world in domain name growth over the last few years. With evolving customer mindset and increasing awareness levels about domain names among SMBs, more and more businesses are going online, thus offering a huge untapped opportunity.

In terms of the geographical spread, the study further revealed that the Indian states with a high penetration of Internet users indicate a higher domain name adoption. Maharashtra, Delhi/NCR, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, emerged as the top states, being home to over 50% of the registered domain name business in India.

For more details and a copy of the study, please refer to the State of the Domain Name Industry in India report

NXP India, a world leader in secure connectivity solutions for embedded applications, organized the TechStreams TechSummit, a panel discussion on Electric Vehicles- The Game Changer of Future Automobiles. The summit saw participation from eminent automobile industry leaders. NXP’s TechStreams is a knowledge sharing platform that includes events, such as the TechTalk, TechConference, TechTutorial, and Tech Summit to promote the spirit of innovation. In essence, TechStreams is a fusion of four technological streams – Security, New Semiconductor Process Technologies, Emerging Domains and High-Performance Analog Signals and RF Designs.

Image source – Energy Vehicles

The Panel discussion was a part of the Emerging Domains stream and focused on Electric Vehicles: The game changer of future automobiles. Some of India’s most valued dignitaries attended the discussion that aimed at debating the role and the future of electric vehicles and their disruptive potential for the automobile industry. The day-long event was divided into two panels that witnessed participation from industry experts, such as Sirish Batchu, Head – Advanced Technology, Mahindra Electric Mobility, Subodh Gajare, Senior Solutions Architect, Cisco, Amit Gupta, Group CEO – Automotive Business, Hero Motors, Vikram Gulati, Country Head & Vice President, Toyota Kirloskar MotorsArun Malhotra, former MD, Nissan, Mohit Arora, Associate Director, Supplier Solutions – India, IHS Markit – Automotive, Atul Arya, Head Energy Systems, Panasonic, Kaushik Madhavan, Director, Automotive & Transportation, Frost & Sullivan and Peeyush Asati, Founder & Managing Director, Vecmocon.

Speaking on the EVs space, Sanjay Gupta, Vice President & India Country Manager, NXP India said

Globally, the EV segment is growing at a double digit every year. It is important to equip the EVs of future with the right technology and infrastructure to fill up the potential that it brings along for nations in general and auto makers specifically. The growth of the EV market presents a massive innovation opportunity around battery, charging and connectivity technologies that will drive newer business models. This process has also been driven in India with an attempt to gradually control pollution, cut oil imports and compete for a slice of the expanding global EV market.

Sanjay Gupta, Vice President & India Country Manager, NXP India

The discussions revolved around the global success stories to drive India as a big market for EVs during the current times and the coming decade followed by the innovations in EVs to ride the future. It was also debated that the India still faces some challenges to EVs while there is immense potential and opportunities to grow the industry from internal combustion engine vehicles to zero emission vehicles. The major hurdle in the way of successful implementation of EV is the charging infrastructure and government’s ambitious plans for a mass scale shift to Electric Vehicles [EVs] will bring electric vehicles on Indian roads in the coming future.

Panel Discussion on Electric Vehicles – The game changer of future automobiles

Here is a glimpse of what the leaders had to say during the summit

Amit Gupta, President & CEO – Group Automotive Business, Hero Motors said

It’s no rocket science that electric vehicles are the future. Modern advances in electric technology are making electric powered vehicles closer to mainstream reality than they ever were. If the progress continues at the current pace, the conventional internal combustion engine powered vehicles may soon go extinct. In terms of the Indian society, a push for the adoption of electric vehicles is the need of the hour. We, at hero are completely prepared for the future and our working along with our partner Hewland, UK on e-transmission from design to cost for OEMs in EU.

Arun Malhotra, Former MD, Nissan India, said

EV technology in India is at the inflection point. The Indian Government has to play the role of a catalyst in terms of a clear roadmap, investment in EV infrastructure and subsidy to the final users to kick start it.

When asked about EV policy for India and what we can take/learn from other countries, Mohit Arora, Associate Director, Supplier Solutions – India, IHS Markit – Automotive responded

When we look at EV penetration strategies globally it boils down to ‘every nation to its own’ thereby implying that there is no set formula on policy that India can pick or borrow. Every nation has to adopt policies according to one’s own strengths and weaknesses in line with the entire EV ecosystem. For India, at the moment, our government is in the drafting phase seeking inputs from different nodal agencies and other stake holders.

Subodh Gajare, Senior Solutions Architect, CISCO, said

There will be a few disruptive trends for the future of urban mobility with AI and autonomous cars shaping new business models. Electrification of vehicles will demand innovation in battery and storage technologies for mass adoption.

About NXP Semiconductors

NXP Semiconductors N.V.  enables secure connections and infrastructure for a smarter world, advancing solutions that make lives easier, better and safer. As the world leader in secure connectivity solutions for embedded applications, NXP is driving innovation in the secure connected vehicle, end-to-end security & privacy and smart connected solutions markets. Built on more than 60 years of combined experience and expertise, the company has 31,000 employees in more than 33 countries and posted revenue of $9.5 billion in 2016. For more information, please visit NXP

Image Source – Brigade REAP

Brigade REAP, the first accelerator in Asia with focus on Real Estate, has now successfully on-boarded Cohort Four. With over 80 start-ups having applied to the program, 11 Start-ups were shortlisted out of which 5 were inducted into the program after a rigorous selection process.

The Start-ups inducted into the program, will under-go thorough mentorship and training for a period of 4~5 months after which they will be handed over to the industry for consumption of their products or services.

Speaking on this occasion, Nirupa Shankar, Director, Brigade REAP, said

We are excited with the innovation and technology that emerging startups are bringing to the table. At REAP, we focus on mentoring these start-ups to make them industry ready so that it is easy for the industry to adopt their technology, be it a product or service. Our goal is to improve the efficiency of the real estate industry through technology.

The startups inducted into the Program are:

  1. Aerologiks – An automated, intelligent & stable drone services and data solutions company, operating to provide valuable insights about ongoing construction projects. For more information, please visit Aerologiks
  2. Clairco – A B2B SaaS company that does air quality monitoring and management for indoor spaces on a real-time basis. For more information, please visit Clairco
  3. R2 Promise – A technology company working towards changing the waste disposal process from Waste Management to Resource management. For more information, please visit R2 Promise.
  4. Renewate – A tech tool which is first of its kind in India that focuses on renovations, refurbishment and remodeling of all residential renovation needs. For more information, please visit Renewate.
  5. Smarter Dharma – A company that focuses on sustainable building design that provides holistic and technical solutions to help builders adopt holistic sustainability. For more information, please visit Smarter Dharma

About Brigade REAP

Brigade REAP is focused on technology startups whose end product/service is applicable to Real Estate be it Residential Commercial or Hospitality projects. The sectors range from IoT, Nano Technology, Cleantech and Renewable energy, Logistics and Visual Computing. The program is mentored by John Kuruvilla, Chief Mentor for the program and Apul Nahata, Mentor-in-Residence and has a stellar line up of mentors and advisors.

Mankind’s quest for Artificial Intelligence [AI] has driven development from times immemorial. It dates back to the architectural astronomy instruments in India to Abacus of Mesopotamia; from mechanical triggering of medieval cannons in China to the emergence of the big World Wide Web; and finally to the 21st century when Internet of Things [IoT], Blockchain, Robotics and AI are finally a reality. It’s a marvel to construe that machines of today can actually learn, improve over a period of time with an in-built self learning capability.

Image Source – AI in Banking

AI not only refers to a specific software algorithm but a broad spectrum of capabilities of machines that have cognitive functions, which include speech recognition, machine translation, file reading from a machine, fraud detection prediction, learning and predicting trends and natural language processing.  A recent report suggests that globally over $1 trillion of today’s financial services cost structure could be replaced by machine learning and AI.

Financial institutions worldwide have always been at the forefront of adopting new technology. Closer home, in India, recent reports published by Accenture suggest that around 83% of Indian bankers believe that AI will work alongside humans in the next two years, which is higher than the global average of 79%. 

Lets delve deeper into how AI in set to transform Banking and Insurance of the future. Focus on the how AI would be integrated into BFSI, the many benefits and use-cases to substantiate how the ecosystem would evolve. 

Customer Service Chatbots

Smart virtual agents or chatbots elevate the customer experience to a new level by providing real time round the clock service with natural language to perform day to day transaction. They anticipate customers unique transaction needs and recommend the right insurance policy or right portfolio for investment in fraction of a second, with quick ability to deep dive into the data models. This gives customer personalized services experience and increased customer satisfaction.

Customer & Business Audio Bots

A case in point, is a customer greeted by EVA from Emirates NBD [leading bank in UAE], a audio bot. This is a new face of banking where audio bots are taking over in a quick and efficient way to provide information. Bots can run query much faster and provide results to the customer objectively, without any  emotions attached to it.

There is a growing demand for audio bots within businesses. In a typical scenario, a CEO can be remotely assisted by an audio bot to provide him sales performance data of a branch or a zone, provide instant details about top performers, top claims paid or on business forecast for the year.

Virtual assistants can manage the low-value activities of advisors, such as lead management, scheduling, planning, licensing, etc., enabling them to focus on building skills and providing value-added services.

Companies have transformed from conventional password and I-pin methods to voice recognition with the help of voice prints to automate the process. Face recognition to ascertain account credentials are becoming a norm.

Customer Insights and Risk Management

Risk management is one of the largest opportunity for leveraging the full potential of AI. Using AI in Banking it is possible to sieve through different data sources such as credit scores, financial data, spending patterns help to determine risk scores of a customer, based on his or her nationality, occupation, salary range, experience, industry and credit history. Moreover, AI can be used to reduce the strain of regulatory compliance and to overhaul the way banks/insurers detect financial crimes and frauds.

Similarly in Insurance, risk scores can be very helpful in underwriting policy and adjudicating claims for a individual on basis of various parameters. It could be based on data models during the on-boarding of a customer, agent or a claim risk propensity can be calculated and early warning signals can be triggered.

AI systems can be used to perform research, aggregate, refine and present required information to underwriters, allowing them to focus on core underwriting activities.

In summary, the benefits of AI

Enhance operational efficiency, improve time-to-market, enable a more intelligent way to sell and service, and more. During the last five years, industrial use of AI – in terms of interest, investment, ideation and implementation – has risen exponentially.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. This can be validated through how a leading health insurance startup leveraged AI by using data and software to build clinical profiles of people to identify gaps in care. These gaps in care were filled with visits and free choice of doctors for patients to avoid costly hospital stays.

Similarly, a life insurance startup used AI to generate quotes for accident death claims which simplified sign-up in less than 2 minutes. There are several such instances that fortify AI as a technology that would revolutionize businesses and the world at large.

About the author

Snehal Desai is the Global Sales Head – Insurance at 3i Infotech Ltd. More details about him can be found here

In its mission to bridge the digital gender divide in rural India and empower women through digital literacy, Google India and Tata Trusts announced reaching the halfway mark, with 150,000 villages, under its Internet Saathi program. The program has contributed towards bridging the digital gender divide in rural India [female to male ratio from 1 in 10 in 2015 to 3 in 10 in 2017], and has benefited over 15M women in 13 states, the program has expanded to cover four new states – Goa, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Telangana.

Image Source – Internet Saathi

The ‘Internet Saathi’ programme focuses on educating women to use the internet, who then impart training to other women in their community and neighboring villages. The program has motivated many enterprising women, who are now using the internet, to find new opportunities – be it Vandana Potdar from Karandi, Pune who helped start a community owned Potato chips business or Shital from Sangli, Maharashtra, who helped her son prepare and clear the Science Olympiad exam, by finding study modules on the Internet or Padmavati who set-up an lemongrass oil production unit in Guntur and learnt the various manufacturing techniques using the internet, or hundreds and thousands of other women.

The program will cover over 10,500 villages, spread across the four new states – Goa, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Telangana, and will train around 1000 Saathis.

Ganga, an Internet Saathi from Vallabhipur, Telangana said

I am very excited to be teaching my fellow village women about the wonders of the Internet. I have found the convenience of online payments through various apps and feel it can be beneficial for others too.

Rehana Begum, an Internet Saathi from Goa said

Learning new things is always interesting and with this program I am able to make my wish come true. I am excited to help my fellow villagers as many of them are always on the lookout for different government schemes they are eligible for. Access to information on the Internet will make things so convenient for them.

Talking about the initiative, Sapna Chadha, Director of Marketing, Southeast Asia & India, Google said

It has been an incredible journey, and reaching the halfway milestone, together with TATA Trusts and the women across rural India is a testimony of the beliefs and efforts of our saathis, who opted for change, and embraced the program to improve their lives. In the last three years, the program has not only contributed to improving the digital gender ratio but has become a major force of change in rural India – inspiring millions of women, their families to embrace the change and gain from the Internet in ways that we couldn’t even imagine.

Raman Kalyanakrishnan, Head – Strategy, Tata Trusts, said

We are really proud of this achievement. This wouldn’t have been possible without the most important stakeholders, the women themselves – the vehicles of transformation. They have shown a great amount of enthusiasm and keenness to learn, despite many challenges. Keeping the momentum of this initiative, we will be continuing our outreach in the next 150,000 villages to improve digital literacy and create sustainable livelihood opportunities for women in rural India.

Launched as a pilot in 2015 along with Tata Trusts,  the program has successfully reached the length and breadth of the country today, and has a network of 48000 Internet Saathis, who are spread across the villages of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Tripura, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Goa, Karnataka, and Telangana.