Home automation is no longer the stuff of science fiction; it has become real with the concept of Smart Home. It is equipped with latest features and technologies: a smart home is being touted as the biggest innovation in the real estate sector today. It is more comfortable, highly secured and part of a lifestyle, therefore, they are more in demand.

Image Source – Smart Homes

As per Colliers International India, the concept is still evolving in India, although at its core, is the ability to manage a system of networked devices, also known as the Internet of Things [IoT] and servicing powering homes remotely through apps on the smart-phones and computers. The adaptation of a smart home is largely driven by various smart devices for convenience, security, entertainment, efficiency and health.

In India, the concept was earlier limited to luxury segment only, with now spreading its wing to the mid-income segment also. The increment in its demand has mainly increased with a rise in internet penetration and affordability of smart devices.

For most young professionals, smart homes are no longer a concept or differentiated product offering, but essential components of their dwelling specifications. The developers need to understand the consumer preference and incorporate these into their products.

Talking about the Smart homes, Gaurav Mittal, Managing Director, CHD Developers said

Smart homes concept is new to India and it is trending in the Indian real estate market. Smart home technology products aim to incorporate comfort, entertainment, mobility and security, providing consumers with connected solutions all the time. New advanced technology is making people smarter and that too homes, a variety of things can be controlled like lights appliances, security systems from anywhere in the house or as well as any region in the world by phone and internet. Technology shapes the future and it can help to make it compatible with nature.

As per Anarock Property Consultants, in India, these are common in IT-centric areas like Pune’s Kharadi and Navi Mumbai in Mumbai. It comes in various shapes and sizes, and saturation of smart features. Its features are turning into the ‘must-haves’ and are becoming common among all age groups.

Anupam Varshney, Head – Sales & Marketing, Vatika Limited said

Today’s homebuyers look for a home which complements them and simplify their busy lives. With Vatika Smart Homes you would be able to control your gadgets through a voice command or remotely through a mobile app. We have focused on the elements which make a home more convenient.

The concept of Smart Homes is set to revolutionize the real estate sector and we are glad to provide the same to Vatika buyers. Vatika Automated Smart Homes will be available in Vatika India Next and Vatika India Next 2 townships in Gurugram.

Increasing awareness about the need for environmentally sustainable development and living is also another reason for the rise in the increasing demand for smart homes. Thus, a genuine smart home is conceived and developed with a certain tech-enabled focus, ensuring optimal use of the facilities at the project level. It becomes necessary for a developer to use the latest technology without ignoring quality and security.

NASSCOM, the global IT giant, has reported that it expects India to grasp a 20% market share in the Internet of Things [IoT]. This newly emerging sector is expected to be worth $300 billion by 2020.

Image Source – IoT

According to NASSCOM’s [Industrial Initiative] Vice-President, K. S. Vishwanathan

The Internet of Things is driving the fourth wave of industrial revolution dramatically alerting manufacturing, energy, transportation, medical and other industrial sectors while emerging worldwide.

NASSCOM, or the National Association of Software and Services Companies, is a not-for-profit association dedicated towards creating a conducive business environment for IT enabled companies and services to thrive in. With multiple industry sectors and sub-sectors in its domain, NASSCOM’s Industry Council has been set up to address the specific needs of each sector. As such, it actively engages with the industry, its policy makers as well as all other stakeholders.

Moreover, as part of the associations’ Global Trade initiative, NASSCOM also focuses on expanding its outreach to both developed and emerging markets. It collaborates with such markets on innovation and technology, policy advocacy related to several issues such as taxation and labour mobility, as well as exploring new geographies and markets. By ironing out any operational hurdles that may stand in the way, overall, NASSCOM looks at promoting India as a technology and services hub on a global scale.

Over the last decade, India has seen an exponential growth in the Internet and E-commerce space, with the number of Internet users going past the 450 million mark. This makes the country the second largest Internet-based market after China.

E-Commerce

This spike in Internet penetration in both urban and rural India has also propelled growth in the E-commerce sector. With a growth rate of about 20%, the country’s E-commerce industry is expected to surpass the $100 billion mark by 2020.

Internet of Things [IoT]

Thanks to the Internet boom, new and emerging fields like Internet of Things [IoT] are now flourishing. Simultaneously, they are also resurrecting and revolutionizing several sectors such as manufacturing, industry, transportation, energy, health care and medical – amongst many others. As a result, India’s IoT market is on track to capture 20% of the global market share and surpass the $300 billion mark by 2020.

The Big Picture

The Internet industry is currently undergoing a massive change with more and more avenues for companies to bank upon. However, for the industry to reach its full potential, a lot more needs to be done. Thereby, the country has set up a mobile and Internet council to nurture the imminent growth in this space and contribute to its overall growth and development.

With the Indian share market steadily chugging along, and more and more entities learning how to invest in share market, India’s overall economic growth is expected to rise. And the stellar showing by the Internet and E-commerce sector is only going to propel it further.

Aeris, a technology leader in the Internet of Things [IoT] has collaborated with Malaviya Centre for Incubation, Innovation and Entrepreneurship [MCIIE] and Indian Institute of Technology [BHU], Varanasi to establish a state-of-the-art ‘Internet of Things – Centre of Excellence’ [CoE] on the IIT BHU campus. All entities aim to jointly address the pressing need in India to develop workers’ skills, accelerate innovation and increase entrepreneurship in emerging technologies like IoT.

Image Source – IoT

The global IoT market is expected to cross $200 billion by 2020, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. India now accounts for 43 percent or USD $1.5 billion of the global $3.5 billion IoT market, according to Zinnov Zones. This is expected to grow to $15 billion, with 5.6 billion devices in India by 2020, according to NASSCOM and Deloitte. This presents a significant opportunity for Indian technologists, startups and service providers to help advance IoT technology adoption.

With IoT converging different technologies, multi-disciplinary skill-sets are the key requirement for filling new job roles. More than 220,000 new engineers will be needed globally every year for the next 10 years to keep up with the IoT technological surge, according to Cisco. More than 500,000 program managers and 4.5 million IoT developers will be needed by 2020, reflecting a 57 percent compound annual growth rate.

The collaboration between Aeris and IIT BHU, one of the top engineering institutes in India, will enable the creation of indigenous and innovative IoT solutions, supporting the ‘Digital India’ mission and ‘Make in India’ initiative. The Aeris® IoT platform will be deployed at the IoT-CoE as part of the MCIIE and will be used by IIT-BHU scholars for projects of academic interest, as well as serving as an incubation platform for startups for the development of connected and integrated smart solutions. Aeris employees from India and USA will provide training and hands-on experiences in IoT technology.

Dr. Rishi Bhatnagar, President, Aeris India, said

With more than two decades of IoT experience globally, Aeris has been a significant IoT solutions provider for more than two years in India. We are committed to helping increase IoT knowledge and skills so that our country, India, develops homegrown IoT solutions for meeting its own unique challenges and adoption of the technology.

The Aeris IoT Centre of Excellence with IIT BHU is a step in that direction. We will work closely with IIT BHU teams to train them on using Aeris’ own proven IoT technology for developing relevant and affordable IoT solutions for different industry verticals. I believe that the campus will become the hub of the best talent for IoT in the coming years.

Professor Pradeep Srivastav, IIT [BHU], Varanasi, said

The relationship between MCIIE and Aeris will allow IIT BHU students and entrepreneurs to work more efficiently in the area of IoT and cloud-based ideas, also enable us to create an ecosystem of low-cost IoT-based technologies, which will help our Purvanchal region.

This initiative will bring significant benefits to the state’s regional and rural farmers, schools, businesses and local government including greater efficiencies and productivity through young entrepreneurs. This partnership is particularly timely for MCIIE in Varanasi and Purvanchal as the cost to create solutions are seen as a major impediment to economic growth of the region.

About Malaviya Centre for Incubation, Innovation and Entrepreneurship [MCIIE], IIT [BHU]

The purpose of the Technology Business Incubator – Malaviya Centre for Innovation, Incubation & Entrepreneurship [MCIIE] is to simulate growth of technology based incubating companies to get proper competitive market and multidisciplinary exposure in regards to existing market and fulfillment of this mission, the centre would contribute to Indian GDP and job creation within the Purvanchal region. This facility serves as a focal point for agri-business, manufacturing, renewable energy and solid waste management, information & communication technology, bio-technology, food technology and allied sectors business incubation. For more information, please visit http://mciieiitbhu.org/

Staying true to their commitment to innovate and make life comfortable for their customers, Luminous Power Technologies has launched Luminous Home Mobile application, the first of its kind, Mobile AR Catalogue for Indian Home Electrical Industry. The application uses Augmented Reality to help consumers select the best fan and modular switches designs for their homes without leaving the comfort of their home. Luminous Home is available on Google Play and Apple Store for customers to download.

Image Source – Luminous

The picture overlay is displayed on the smartphone’s or tablet’s screen showing how the new Signature fan/ modular switch would fit in their home with the added benefit of background and colour option on the application. With the help of these options, customers can visualize, which fan or modular switch will go best with their home decor. In addition, the application also helps customers to locate dealers in their area if they wish to make the purchase.

Vipul Sabharwal, Managing Director, Luminous Power Technologies, said

At Luminous, our aim is to always advance with the evolving needs of the Indian buyers.  We have introduced virtual and augmented reality technology to give our customers the flexibility to get a better idea of some of our products by giving them a platform to experience it. We are positive that the launch of this app will lead to increase in brand preference for Luminous and create a strong brand recall among Key Retailers in Electrical trade and the end consumer.

The launch of the new mobile app comes at the heels of Luminous’ new signature range of fans, imbibing the unique personalities of charismatic cities like Jaipur, London, New York & Rio de Janeiro in February. The range is available through 2000 key retailers across India and costs between Rs.3000~Rs.9000.

Consumers can download the app by scanning the QR Code in the image below

About Luminous Power Technologies

Luminous Power Technologies is the leading electrical specialist in India having a vast portfolio comprising of Power back up solutions such as Home UPS, Batteries, Stabilizers and Solar Solutions to Home Electrical offerings such as Fans, LED lighting, Wires & Switches. Luminous has been in business for 30 years now. It has 7 manufacturing units, more than 28 sales offices in India and presence in over 36 countries. Our 6000 employees serve more than 60,000 channel partners and millions of customers.

IoT is gaining popularity with each passing day and one of the primary reason to it is that it is instrumental in creating a connected eco-system. With the lethal combination of cloud, IoT, mobility & other technologies, a consumer can now control temperature in his living room while sitting in the comfort of his office or (s)he can issue voice commands to ‘perform actions’ to a smart connected speaker [Google Home Mini/Amazon Echo Dot/etc.] without even touching the primary device [mobile/tablet].

Image Source – IoT

As per a report by Gartner on IoT, there would be close to 21 billion connected devices by the year 2020 and the usage would not be limited to only smartphones, tablets, speakers, etc. but it would have a profound impact on sectors likes healthcare, finance and others as well. Though popularity is on the rise, there is still a problem with ‘Product Discovery in IoT’ e.g. How does a consumer select the best set of connected devices for home/office so that they can truly experience ‘smart connectivity’. This is the problem being solved by Smarthome NX, the only aggregator in the home IoT space in Asia that is making it easy for consumers to adopt a Smart home by spreading awareness and hand-holding the customer.

Smarthome NX is an aggregator for Smart home solutions with a unique consulting process that inspires consumers with practical ideas and helps them in the process of implementation. They currently deal in home automation, smart door locks, smart lighting, AV, security systems, security cameras by brands such as Yale, Bose, Legrand, GM, Control4, Crestron, Cue, Fibaro, Philips Hue, Eureka Forbes to name a few.

Today we have an interaction with serial entrepreneur Dhaval Doshi, Founder & CEO of Smarthome NX. The discussion revolves around IoT market landscape, Smarthome NX, how it is helping consumers to adopt to Smart Homes, etc. So let’s get started with the Q&A…

How did you come up with the idea of SmartHome NX ?

Smarthome NX was conceived when I was sick of the way home automation and Smart home solutions were being sold in India. As a homeowner, I found it challenging to make sense of what are the solutions available and moreover get the right advice to set up the apt devices suitable to my lifestyle. Therefore, I felt the need to fill this gap between the consumer and the solution providers by way of a portal that could educate and help consumers simplify the process of adopting this complex and rather unfamiliar technology.

It is important to note that unlike other smart devices like your smartphone, a Smart home solution is not a standalone product but a bundle of products that together form a solution. To most consumers, this is an arbitrary solution and is not important unless it solves a specific problem in their life. No one says that I want a Smart home solution that has 4 GB RAM and an OLED display. In fact, most of them say that I want a solution that can help me monitor my pet or alert me if I left my stove on. Therefore, a Smart home solution needs to be personalized and generally relates to a specific lifestyle nuance. That’s what we do at Smarthome NX – educate, engage and ensure adoption is easy.

Can you walk us through the team behind SmartHome NX ?

I am the founder of Smarthome NX. My background is in digital marketing and advertising. I have worked on large and small brands alike having been associated with brands like Axis Bank, Bajaj Auto, Amazon Prime Video to name a few. This is my third venture after having built and sold a digital agency and having run a modest co-working space in the suburbs of Mumbai.

My wife Namrata is an architect and a green building consultant. She acts as a Subject Matter Expert [SME] and helps us translate customer requirements into technical solutions. In addition, as an architect she helps us build our partner network as well. Rest of the team comprises of a digital marketing lead, a marketing and partnerships manager, relationship managers and content writers

Though there is lot of buzz about IoT or connected devices, it is still at a very nascent stage [at least in India], what is the Total Addressable Market [TAM] of the IoT online market that SmartHome NX is trying to address ?

First of all, as an entrepreneur, TAM and such terms are just buzzwords. To me, fundamentals of a business matter far more. I believe most entrepreneurs get caught up with all this jargon when they do investor presentations. I, for one am bootstrapped and second I am building something to solve a real problem – which to me is big.

In order to break the myths of how ‘big’ the IoT market is, we conducted a survey with about 500 odd households across India to understand what they think about ‘smart homes’ or ‘home automation’. We realized that there are more severe problems to solve here before the market goes mainstream

  • Lack of awareness
  • Finding the right consultant
  • interoperability issues within the home automation ecosystem

There is a research paper by Red Seer Consulting which says that the market size is pegged at Rs. 8,800 crore. However, I take these numbers with a pinch of salt. Because this does not take into consideration the larger services play which are being built on top of Smart home solutions – be it managed security solutions or even entertainment.

Over a period of time, we have pivoted and learnt several things about the market we are in. Interestingly, we are not in the Smart homes market. The service we are providing [free consulting to our clients] is mostly to new homeowners. And they don’t want just ‘Smart home solutions’, they want more. They are evolved and involved purchasers who want more from their home – which goes beyond aesthetics. Therefore, we are now going to venturing into residential solar energy solutions as well and other low-hanging services for which they don’t have enough information – soundproof windows, modular furniture, modular kitchens, etc.

SmartHome NX team

Can you list down some of the partners of SmartHome NX and the cities that it is currently operational in ?

We can not name our partners but the larger proportion of our partners are present in Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Installing even a surveillance system in home requires lot of wiring, please walk us through the entire flow of events right from the time a potential customer submits a request to the time his/her home is converted into a ‘Smart Home’ ?

There are several steps involved. However, not every surveillance system requires wiring. There are many wireless solutions available as well. A typical smart home security solution [requiring wiring] requires answering the following questions and planning accordingly:

  • What do you want to monitor?
  • Do you need to record it? If so, for how long do you need the data? Typically a higher capacity Hard Drive gives you access to footage for a longer period [1 month, 2 months and so on]
  • How many cameras would you eventually need for the same
  • Concealed wiring is preferred so it’s important to determine whether the homeowner is open to breaking of the walls or ceilings and then getting them redone [new homeowners should ideally call us before their wiring work starts]
  • DVR and the features of the DVR and its usability is important. Generally a DVR – a digital video recorder hosts the hard drive. So it’s important to be able to use it easily and be acquainted with the interface otherwise it becomes challenging to access the security footage.

Typically, after a customer submits the request this is what happens

  • Smarthome NX consultant speaks to you and understands your lifestyle and requirements
  • This is translated into a broad requirements sheet and shared with our entire network of Smart security solutions
  • He or she will contact you and do a recce of your house
  • Send you a quote and start the work.

Since connected devices also require Maintenance, please delve deep into the post installation and AMC process [and for how long is SmartHome NX involved with a customer after his/her SmartHome is ready] ?

We are an aggregator of service providers and are not involved in the project. However, a customer can speak with us at anytime even if they have not gotten a Smart home solution installed through our network. We are happy to connect him to relevant brands and dealers so that they get the service that they need. However, if you have gotten a solution through one of our system integrators, you generally get an AMC contract for a fee based on the products you have bought.

Apart from in house IoT experts, does your startup also have architects on-board who can check the feasibility of a home [before giving a go-ahead] ?

Yes, we do have consulting architects who work along with Namrata and the consulting team to help the customer and system integrator as well in many cases.

Does SmartHomeNx serve the B2C space only or you also have customers in the B2B space ?

We do have customers in the B2B space. However, our focus is and always will be on the end customer. We feel there is far more value to be added there in terms of educating and helping them find the right solution provider.

Can you please some insights into the customer demographics [space, locality, city, etc.] and a rough estimate of the number of customers served till date ?

Practical homemakers, Interior Designers, Builders, Expats, Green living enthusiasts, Millennial’s are generally the type of personas who read our content and speak with us. We have generated inquiries worth about 15 crore and helped connect our partners to 500 homeowners. [Since January 2018].

Please walk us through the funding of SmartHome NX and are you open to institutional funding ?

Bootstrapped. Currently, we are looking to raise funds from angel investors.

The growth in the IoT market is plagued by interoperability issues, what according to you, can the IoT companies do to further expand the IoT ecosystem ?

This is a very scattered and fragmented market. I think that the popularity of Amazon Echo and other such devices by the big tech companies [Google, Amazon, Apple and others] are a boon to the industry. They are ensuring there are more universal interfaces that are available to control a Smart home.

The peripherals industry of Smart homes is set to explode thanks to these interfaces. Interoperability challenges are the industry’s problem. That does not mean that the customer won’t win. Most successful products available in the market work on multiple ecosystems.

To me, this problem will fix itself when customers start adopting something massively – like the Amazon Echo. Generally two or three such events and complementary products and services will make a solution mainstream. Then every other player will follow.

Does SmartHome NX also develop custom build apps for it’s customer since they need to manage different devices on the go and how much do you charge for the update of the App or for FOTA upgrades of your in house developed connected hub ?

Nope. We are a discovery platform for existing solutions already available in the market.

In case, a real-estate company plans to tie-up with SmartHome NX, how does the entire process work ?

We understand their requirements and connect them to system integrators who can work on large scale projects and have the wear withal to execute the same in terms of competency, team and product portfolio. In fact, we have already done this for many villa scheme builders in Southern India and some builders in Mumbai too.

There are number of HNIs who are tech-savvy but don’t know about the security implications for a connected home, how do you educate such category of customers about security, maintenance, upgrades, etc. ?

Content, Content, Content. We have a great newsletter #SmarthomesWeekly and we also right great content on our site about interesting use-cases of products. We do not focus on features but focus on lifestyle problems that these products solve. That’s how we differentiate.

Does SmartHome NX work on the marketplace model [both in terms of devices and contractors] or do you have your own warehouse ?

We are building a marketplace around this but we will steer away from having our own warehouse and our vendors would be drop-shipping individual orders we generate for them. But we are still to get to this so it may go either way.

In IT capital Bengaluru, Sobha Builders, came up with the Smart Building ‘Sobha Habitech’ and Amazon Echo also went mainstream with Builders recently, how according to you would such big tie-ups help in strengthening the eco-system ?

Awesome. This is just great. To me, these efforts are great ways to sell your dormant inventory when you are a builder. However, this does not build a case for Smart homes. These are just sales promotion techniques.

Can you some of the competitors of SmartHome NX ?

No one really. However, with our new positioning [going beyond Smart homes], we would be competing with folks like Houzz.com. We are far from it but we are getting there soon.

2017 was a tough year for startups [especially from funding point of view], how according to you should entrepreneurs deal with such adverse situations ?

Every year seems to be a tough year. I don’t know who comes up with these. Outside of all Tiger Global and Softbank funding news, there is another world of startups that still raise some money and make money too. But unfortunately, the media terms something bad just because they didn’t have too many headliners about billion dollar fundings.

Overall, in tough times, survival counts most. Always keeping your eye on the end goal is important. Monetizing too early is bad too.

Can you share some tips for building an effective team for startups [especially the initial core team].

Hire the people who have the right mindset and not necessarily who are most talented. To me mindset and attitude are two things that tell you whether the person has the grit that is needed to work for a startup. Dozens of pivots, uncertain revenue models and lack of scale – is the person you are hiring ready for it? If not, he is not in it for the game. It is tough but you need people to work for the vision you have.

When you are starting up no one can see what your vision is – therefore they bet their careers on you. It’s important to ensure that they realize that. If they don’t, they are probably just working for you because they think ‘it’s cool to work for a startup’. They won’t realize what they are getting into and will soon quit. So be blunt when you hire, tell them what you are up to and why you are doing it. Honesty goes a long way in weeding out the wrong candidates and finding the right ones.

How important is it for early stage startups to pivot their business model [in case things are not working out as per their plan] or when is the right time to pivot ?

Very. The single most important thing is this. You can not pivot when you are growing. When you are small, it’s easy, it’s less expensive. I think we are still young and we continue to do pivots. I like to call them experiments. I like to do multiple experiments depending on how much cash I have in my bank account. Some pivots even make you money [when we are trying different revenue models] but at the end of the day – learning is most important byproduct. This learning according to me is the most important thing for an entrepreneur

As per your entrepreneurial experience, when should an entrepreneur look out for external funding ?

This never stops I think – external or not. You need money to scale your venture.

Some books that you highly recommend for entrepreneurs

Lee Iacocca’s autobiography

Some closing thoughts for our readers!

I will leave the readers with my favorite quote by Lee Iacocca – ‘The trick is to make sure you don’t die waiting for prosperity to come‘.

We thank Dhaval Doshi for sharing his insights with our readers and walking us through his journey. If you have any questions for him, please share them via a comment to this article or email them to himanshu.sheth@gmail.com

Microsoft India showcased several of its own and third-party solutions that use Microsoft Cognitive Services and bring the power of Artificial Intelligence [AI] to users and organizations through vision, speech, language, knowledge and search scenarios. Over 370 enterprise customers in India already use these cognitive APIs from Microsoft. Microsoft is working with over 650 partners to bring AI solutions to benefit large, medium and small enterprises in the country.

Microsoft Cognitive Services is a collection of intelligent APIs that allow systems to see, hear, speak, understand and interpret human needs using natural methods of communication. Developers can use these APIs to make their applications across platforms more intelligent, engaging and discoverable. Available at www.microsoft.com/cognitive, it includes APIs on

  • Vision: From faces to feelings, allow apps to understand images and video
  • Speech: Hear and speak to users by filtering noise, identifying speakers, and understanding intent
  • Language: Process text and learn how to recognize what users want
  • Knowledge: Tap into rich knowledge amassed from the web, academia, or your own data
  • Search: Locate relevant information among billions of web pages, images, videos, and news with the power of Bing APIs

To date, more than a million developers around the world have already discovered and tried Microsoft Cognitive Services.

Microsoft and partner solutions available to Indian customers are many. Here are a few examples.

Vision

Seeing AI – Designed for users with visual impairment, the Microsoft Seeing AI App combines Artificial Intelligence and rich computer vision to describe surrounding people, text, objects, colors, and currencies in real-time to the user, and is available for download on iOS devices. It can now detect Indian currency and narrate the denomination to the user. This includes all the currency notes that are currently in circulation including the new currency bills issued recently. The Seeing AI app now supports five different currencies including the Euro, US & Canadian dollars as well as British Pounds.

The Intelligent Kiosk – The Intelligent Kiosk is a Windows 10 Universal App showcasing workflows and experiences using Microsoft Cognitive Services. The kiosk app is a great example of an intelligent application, one that can analyze the emotions on human faces as well as still photographs and predict their age, gender and emotion. It also allows developers to quickly create and train a model to perform face identification against any pre-determined set of faces.

Transforming remote hiring – Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company, India’s leading private general insurer, is using an automated video interviewing solution from Microsoft partner Talview to hire from the untapped talent from multiple cities across the country. The cloud-based solution, powered by Microsoft Azure, can be accessed by candidates from any smartphone device and is fully functional even on low speed Internet.

To be more competitive and agile in today’s dynamic marketplace, Bajaj Allianz needed to tap talent from multiple locations. This otherwise came with huge investments in time and resources from both the recruiter and candidate. Deploying automated video interviewing has saved the company time and resources while vastly improving the recruitment process. Candidates are now remotely participating in interviews via smartphones at their own convenient time and place, and  hiring managers have the flexibility to assess and evaluate  candidates without the need to travel to different locations. The company is also using Talview Behavioral Insights [TBI] to build behavioral profiles of candidates. These profiles are enabling hiring managers to find the right person for the job backed by data-driven insights.

Language

Real-time language translation – Microsoft has recently brought the power of AI and Deep Neural Networks [DNN] to improve real-time language translation for Hindi, Bengali, and Tamil. With DNN-powered language translation, the results are more accurate and sound more natural.  Users can avail the benefits of DNN-enhanced Indian language translation while surfing the internet across any website on the Microsoft Edge browser, on Bing search, Bing Translator website, as well as Microsoft Office 365 products like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Skype.

The Microsoft Translator app in Android and iOS can recognize and translate languages from text, speech and even photos. AI deployed in Microsoft’s language translation technologies is bringing more accurate speech recognition and higher quality machine-powered translations to all 60 languages supported by Microsoft’s translation technologies worldwide.

Knowledge [Conversational User Interfaces]

WittyParrot – WittyParrot is an AI & ML powered knowledge and process automation platform for sales, support and knowledge workers. Key solutions include Voice enabled Chat Bots, Document Automation, Contract Lifecycle, Omni-Channel Communication and Engagement. WittyParrot was part of Bengaluru-based Microsoft Accelerator’s 10th batch where they underwent an intensive six-month coaching and mentoring programme.

They are using Microsoft’s Azure cloud offering and leverage it for technologies like big data, Internet of Things [IoT] and advanced analytics, among others, while being fully integrated with Microsoft Office and Microsoft Office 365, several CRM platforms and various voice enabled chat-bot technologies. WittyParrot solutions are being used by leading IT and ITES organizations such as Oracle, Couchbase, Collabera and Data Endure.

Ruuh – Ruuh, Microsoft’s social AI chatbot created specifically for India, has approximately 1.5 million users. Launched a little over a year and a half ago, Ruuh has exchanged 100 million messages with her users so far. You can engage with her on Facebook in the same way you would interact with a friend.

She is built using the vast social content available on the Internet [with strong checks and balances to protect her from exploitation]. Further, she is well versed with Bollywood and has a good sense of humor too. As an AI chatbot, she is learning increasingly from human interactions to respond emotionally and intelligently, providing a unique viewpoint, with manners and emotional expressions.

Knowledge [Productivity]

AI in Office 365 – Microsoft’s AI infused Office 365 helps organizations and employees get the most out of O365 in the following ways:

  • Intelligent, personalized search: This personalized experience uses signals from the Microsoft Graph to provide tailored search results across content and people in an organization based on a user’s work patterns. The redesigned results are easier to explore and allow users to preview files with support for over 270+ different file types without ever leaving the search page.
  • PowerPoint Designer: It is easy to get beautiful designs in minutes for even more types of slides. Designer in PowerPoint now can recommend professional design options for bulleted process lists. This expansion builds upon previous Designer updates to incorporate facial detection, color extraction and more in images. Additional categories of text will be supported in the future, such as timelines.
  • QuickStarter in PowerPoint and Sway: Powered by the Bing Knowledge Graph, QuickStarter in Sway and PowerPoint provides carefully curated outlines for any topic, including recommendations on information to include, categories to consider and associated images tagged with Creative Commons licenses. This provides a solid starting point to then continue building a presentation.
  • MyAnalytics: Users can create better work habits with the help of Microsoft MyAnalytics. MyAnalytics provides insights to help understand how users spend time at work, across meetings, email, time they designate as ‘focus time’ and after-hours work. This way, they can set productivity goals and monitor progress over time.
  • Users can also gain visibility into who they collaborate with most. In the future, MyAnalytics will deliver insights to teams and Office 365 Groups to help them establish better ways of working together, uncover hidden inefficiencies and align on priorities.

Some useful resources for getting started with Microsoft’s Cognitive Services and How app developers can infuse Language & Speech capabilities into their apps can be found below:

Getting started with Microsoft Cognitive Services


Language with Microsoft Cognitive Services: Infusing language and speech capabilities into your app

AI and Microsoft

Microsoft has an ambitious goal to make AI accessible and valuable to every individual and organization, amplifying human ingenuity with intelligent technology.

Microsoft is infusing intelligence across all its products and services to extend individuals’ and organizations’ capabilities and make them more productive; providing a powerful platform of AI services and tools that makes innovation by developers and partners faster and more accessible; and helping transform business by enabling breakthroughs to current approaches and entirely new scenarios that leverage the power of intelligent technology.

In its work to deploy AI everywhere, Microsoft is taking a thoughtful and trusted approach – designing AI innovations that extend and empower human capabilities in all aspects of life, while keeping people in control. Microsoft’s approach to AI puts users in control, with intelligence that is transparent and secure, and sets the highest bar for protecting privacy, while also being inclusive and respectful to all.

As per United Nations’ Water Development Report 2016, one of the most serious problems mankind faces today is the scarcity of water for drinking and domestic use. In India, 63 million people are still lacking access to safe drinking water, according to statistics from World Bank. While potable water shortage is a matter of global concern, experts have in the recent past stressed that efficient processes and technologies for conservation, management and proper utilization of water systems is crucial to address the growing water crisis.

Image Source – IoT

With an eye to innovate in terms of water resource management, Chariot Tech Private Limited, a company that operates New-Delhi based IoT start-up Chariot, has recently tied up with Axioma Metering, a market leader in energy and metering products’ manufacturing in the Baltic region.

The partnership intends to change the face of water metering in India by introducing an umbrella of IoT technology-enabled smart water meters, which will be equipped to monitor, analyze, and appropriately manage water networks across the country.

Commenting on the collaboration, Nilay Mehrotra, Co-Founder & CEO, Chariot said

In today’s era of rapid urbanization, management of the water systems is a critical component for the sustained socio-economic growth. At a time when our country is facing the threat of a full-blown water crisis, Axioma and Chariot’s partnership is not only going to benefit the Smart Cities mission, but also the country’s citizens extensively.

Coupled with the power of the Internet of Things, the adaptation of smart water metering on a large scale has the potential to enable responsible water usage within communities, which in turn, can emerge as a permanent solution to India’s water mismanagement woes. With the help of advanced analytics-based optimizing strategies, we dream of a future where every household gets a fair share of clean water supply.

With the thrust on Smart Cities and Digital India recently, maintaining operational efficiency in terms of urban planning and infrastructure development for residents has become all the important. The outlook and growth trajectory of Smart Cities of the future will largely depend upon smart infrastructure; this is exactly where OEMs need to partner with startups, to derive support in meeting their software and hardware requirements.

Vaidas Jakubavicius, CEO, Axioma Metering said

Apart from being a manufacturer of world-class heat and water metering devices, we at Axioma Metering believe in constant innovation, R8D, and up-scaling. While we already assume a leadership role in developing ultrasound technology-based metering products in Baltic countries, we are indeed delighted to partner with Chariot in India, so as to bring a new dimension to the smart water metering scenario in this country.

With sustainability and high-tech resource monitoring at its heart, we are sure that this tie-up will provide immense value to Indian cities and states, which are already poised for a digital revolution.

Smart water meters provide real-time tracking for the flow and distribution of water networks in a specified area, while also monitoring consumption and expenditure. By studying usage patterns and parameters, predicting water loss due to leakage and enhancing water utility becomes easier. Over a period of time, this also helps in directing the water resources to low-yield areas which are in need the same.

Explaining further on the significance of the tie-up, Raj Garg, Co-founder & CTO, Chariot added

Chariot has introduced a first-of-its-kind Universal IoT platform to India, and also has to its credit executing a project in Maharashtra on Smart Water Metering. Since inception, one of our key focus areas is to help the governments in making efficient choices by leveraging the power of emerging technologies.

Through this partnership, we look forward to combine Axioma’s expertise in the metering sector with our own in the IoT solutions front; the ultimate aim is to support administrative bodies and regional stakeholders to manage their water needs.

As a digital enterprise, Chariot’s Universal IoT platform, which is agnostic to any IoT protocol and device types currently available, delivers comprehensive Platform-As-A-Service [PaaS] and Software-As-A Service [SaaS] solutions for developing and operating big data, predictive analytics, and so on.

On the other hand, Axioma designs and manufactures mechanical and ultrasonic devices for heat and water metering that are exported to 36 countries across the globe; it has already established a strong presence in European countries, and posted annual turnover of approximately 25 million euros. The company will be consolidating its foothold in the Indian arena through this partnership.

About Chariot Tech Pvt Ltd

Chariot is an IoT startup based out of New Delhi. Chariot was born in March 2017 as a brain child of two founder Nilay & Raj. Nilay & Raj started this company as a home automation company but suddenly struggled choosing optimal technology for the product. This confusion gave birth to chariot universal IoT platform. Nilay met Raj through a common friend on Raj’s birthday and started discussing random ideas over a coffee which finally resulted into birth of Chariot. Chariot till the time of formation have been growing at a rate of 45% month on month with a lot of enquiries from both domestic and global market. Chariot has successfully executed a project in Maharashtra on Smart Water metering using chariot product. For more information, please visit Chariot

KaHa, a Singapore-based end-to-end smart wearable IoT platform company, has launched a concept smart wearable body and wellness-monitoring T-shirt prototype developed in partnership with SIMTech. KaHa has been working alongside SIMTech as a key strategic technology and supply chain partner for the research institute’s latest Collaborative Industry Project [CIP] on Smart Apparel Innovation. This CIP program, focusing on Flexible Hybrid Electronics [FHE], aims to accelerate the adoption of advanced technologies to tap the huge potential of smart wearable electronics and help enhance the local smart wearable manufacturing ecosystem.

Image Source – Smart Apparel

The global apparel market currently stands at US$3.6 billion [S$4.4 billion], and the latest IDTechEx Report forecasts the global wearable tech market to reach US$160 billion by 2025. Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative is designed to develop key pillars of growth, with wearable tech being one of them. The rising global demand in wearable tech and apparel dovetails with Singapore’s building of technological and strategic capabilities to propel the nearly 130 manufacturers in the country and apparel manufacturing industry ahead of emerging competition around the world.

KaHa is one of the few companies globally that provide customizable end-to-end smart wearable IoT solutions which offers flexibility for launching smart networked devices and a one-stop solution for brands to bring exciting smart wearables to their customers. The successful demonstration of the smart garment prototype alongside KaHa’s other wearable products and solutions, builds a promising foundation platform for Singapore’s nascent smart wearable ecosystem.

The smart apparel prototype will be showcased today to over 200 attendees at the CIP’s Kick-off Seminar for the second batch of CIP participants. The event is attended by garment manufacturers for international brands, companies from the electronics, consumer lifestyle, healthcare, hand tools, apparel, textile and fashion industries. The first batch of 10 CIP participating companies started in February 2018.

Over the next five months, KaHa and SIMTech will help bring businesses to the forefront of understanding cutting-edge wearable technology and their applications, and help create prototypes that incorporate smart apparel technology into consumer products. KaHa as the CIP’s strategic partner will help guide local manufacturers, brainstorm for application ideas, and partner them to spin-off the prototypes for the manufacturer’s desired product, such as footwear or for customized use in nursing and healthcare. Adoption and adaption of KaHa prototypes and technologies reduce the initial go-to-market time as well as research and development costs for manufacturers. 

Wirelessly Weaving the Foundation of a Robust Smart Apparel Ecosystem

Co-developed by KaHa and SIMTech, the smart apparel prototype has printed Flexible Hybrid Electronics which captures body vitals and transmits it to a detachable Smart Module on the apparel. The module cleans the data, which is then shared with KaHa’s IoT platform to be analyzed.

It monitors heart rate and automatically alert users when their individual maximum prescribed heart rate reaches 80%. It also tracks electrocardiography [ECG or EKG], and VO2 Max [maximal aerobic capacity], and can be extended to cover other biometric data such as blood pressure and breathing patterns – which will have wide-ranging applications, for example, from sports performance to health and wellness and uniforms for specialized industries such as construction.

Pawan Gandhi, Founder and CEO of KaHa, said

Wearable technology is becoming invisible and incorporated within clothing, jewellery and across all wearables. By becoming inconspicuous and seamlessly weaving it into everyday life, we are bringing the Internet-of-Things to consumers at an entirely different level. In the case of sportswear, this will help people reach their full potential in fitness performance and wellness. With this prototype T-shirt as concept, we open the door to many possible applications beyond sports apparel.

We are excited to share and explore the various possibilities with garment and apparel companies as well as various other manufacturers, and work together to commercialise technologies faster and more cost-efficiently, and rapidly bring benefits to the consumers. We welcome development in technical and specialist uniforms as well, for instance creating a bio-feedback circuit for safety monitoring. We can also see application of smart wearable technology into other sectors such as fashion, healthcare, consumer lifestyle and electronics.

Dr Lim Ser Yong, Executive Director of SIMTech, said

The Collaborative Industry Project initiatives assist Singapore industry to accelerate the adoption of technologies and create innovations in a disruptive global markets. By pooling together resources of small and medium sized enterprises in Singapore and supporting them with innovative capabilities, SIMTech and KaHa gear industries to meet future challenges and capture new markets.

About KaHa

KaHa is the parent company for brands such as COVE and COVENET, unique end-to-end IoT wearable platforms. The company’s leadership team is passionate about the consumer journey, and the platforms have been developed to achieve rapid innovation and learning through data analytics to provide innovative use cases and exciting user experiences. The platforms include electronics design, printed circuit board assembly, application framework for iOS and Android, cloud services, data analytics and smart after-sales service tool. This makes the COVE and COVENET, platforms a one-stop solution for large brands to bring exciting smart wearables to their customers. The platforms enable several services verticals to be incorporated into smart wearables. For more information, please visit KaHa