India Innovation – Android Love from India, including a Siri Clone

Its been a while since I wrote about India and the technological innovation there but here is something that is hard to be missed. Being an Indian and an Android fan it is one of those moments that you will be surely proud of, Apps. Indian Software developers are not the foremost to come up with products, yes there are quite a few there, but in comparison to the number of apps used worldwide the apps from India don’t come to the forefront. Indian Software industry has always played a service role for most companies, where we have developed products for others. Not many products that are home-grown. I guess its changing, and here are the first signs that we can be good at it too.

When Apple introduced Siri, every Android user wanted to hear about the version for Android. And there were few but all lacked complete functionality. An Indian Startup is trying to change all that, from the notion that Indian Software companies dont do products to Siri App for Android. Enter Dexetra, A startup from Cochin that is planning to change the world of Android and India.

Iris 

Like the Siri clone, Iris is a speech recognition and interpretation engine aimed solely at the tech savvy always connected Android user. Like the iPhone 4s the Iris requires the internet to be connected at all times to be able to process the information and spit out the results. With over a Million  installs and with tremendous response from the global Android community this app seems to be the one to see in 2012. Along with the company.

Check out Iris for yourself here on Android Market. Oh yes that’s not it, they also have more software like the Speed Sense and Secure Keys that are as helpful as the Iris You can check them out on their developer page on Android Market. Check out decent App Intro Videos as well for their upcoming Android App, Friday. Does this not look like an international App company now ?? Proud to have crossed paths with these guys.

I just hope that these guys find all the support they need and also move along and produce some brilliant Android Apps. Now waiting for some hackable intelligence of connecting the Arduino with the Iris to get a proper solution to the Voice Activated Home. Dexedra Are you listening ??

Wordless Thursday – Year in Review : You are what you Tweet

As the year comes to a close, we usually reflect upon the various changes and the hits and misses of the year. This year was the year of the celebrities and of the Arab Spring. If you ask me, the infographic below does not do enough justice for some of the other important discussions of the year, but such is.

Wordless Thursday for the uninitiated is this blogs attempt to bring some interesting graphics and some interestingness infographic.

2011 in review infographic

Source: http://frugaldad.com

 

Namma Metro – A geek train for a high tech city

Bangalore was the Garden City of India and IS the Silicon valley of India now. Yes, there will be some debate over this statement, but Bangalore is and always will be for me the IT hub or IT Capital of India. So when a new Metro started operation in the city it had to keep up with that image. Having used the Metro in Dubai, I was not very impressed with having the Metro manned with a driver, as opposed to the metro in Dubai which is completely automatic. But thinking as a project Manager I realized that the Capex of introducing an unmanned system was far greater than having the Opex of a Manned system, and in India there is no shortage of labor or rather inexpensive labor so it made sense.

So without having a train that was automatic, it would have to be impressive in terms of technology for me to be able to be impressed with it. On my last trip to India, I did go and see the train in Bangalore, the coach placed at MG Road was a non working display sample but still did not fail to impress. I did a bit of research on the technology used on Namma Metro and I was pleasantly surprised. Here are some things I found out :

The track system

The Bangalore Metro is standard gauge, a system used by most metros worldwide. Narrower than the broad gauge, it allows for greater manoeuvrability, easy ride along curves, laying of tracks even on narrow stretches and control. The standard gauge has a track width of 4ft, 8.5inches, or 1,435mm, while the Indian broad gauge is 5ft, 6inches, or 1,676mm.

Bangalore Metro runs on the ballastless track system used by 70% of the world’s metros. In layman’s language, this means the track does not require stones used on traditional broad gauge track systems to build the track and run the train, as the load is lower than that of a conventional train. The tracks are laid on a concrete slab after assessing the engineering factors. Stones on the conventional track help in balanced construction, while in metro systems concrete slabs are enough.

The Rolling Stock (Coaches)

The rolling stock (coaches/cars) are three stainless steel-bodied wagons. The train will be under the driver’s control, but they are equipped with some Automatic Controls to assist the driver. The seating capacity per train is approximately 1,000, giving more floor area to standing passengers.


The coaches are manufactured by Hyundai Rotem Korea and Mitsubishi Electric Company. BEML has the licence to manufacture the coaches in Bangalore. While Mitsubishi supplied the traction for the coaches, Hyundai Rotem supplied the rolling stock and BEML the coaches.

Power in Third Rail

Electricity for the train will run on a third rail next to the main track. It has an opening at the bottom at certain points from where the train draws its power. The third rail is covered with a yellow shroud, and a person falling on the track won’t be electrocuted. ABB designed, supplied, installed and commissioned four substations to receive and distribute electricity at 66/33 kV, as well as auxiliary and traction substations. ABB will also provide an integrated network management, or SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) system to monitor and control the installations.

Consumer tech in the Coaches

Apart from the technology of the trains themselves, of course something that will not be very visible the trains feature a host of features that are visible and form an important part of the coaches. Guess here are some of the interesting consumer or close to consumer technologies in the metro.

Wi-Fi : Ironically the first thing I am listing is not visible at all, but is increasingly becoming one of the basic requirements especially in a city like Bangalore. Passengers can use their laptops, tablets and the mobile internet to be connected while on transit.

Emergency Voice Comms : Passengers will have emergency voice communication with train staff through a speaker system. Passengers can press a call button to communicate anything urgent to the driver or control centre. Help will be at hand at the next station. The integrated control centre will have direct communication with trains and stations which will be CCTV-fitted with visual and audio service information.

Collision Detection : Bangalore Metro also has automatic train supervision, protection and operation systems — if there’s a train on the same track ahead, the approaching train will sense it and come to a halt at a safe distance.

CCTV Monitoring : Cameras will be installed inside the train as well as stations, and people’s movements will be monitored by an operations control centre at Byappanahalli. In case of any help or emergency, the control room will be able to see what went wrong.

Ticketing : Ticketing, too, is completely automated with just a swipe of the ticket, token or card at a particular point near the entry and exit, enabling the gates to open and close. Recharge of metro cards through mobiles and SMS, a first in the world. What I am waiting for Google India to introduce the features of Google Wallet into the Metro, it will be really interesting. Are you listening Google?

Wordless Thursday – How to get a job with Apple / Google

Hi all its Thursday again, and its time for Wordless Thursday. And in this time of recession it is clear that the only companies that are apparently hiring are the companies who are in tech. Apple and Google along with Facebook might be the 3 largest firms hiring people. SO how do you land a job with these awesome work places and work cultures. There’s an infographic for that !!

Wordless Thursday is an attempt on this blog to bring about some of the creative and interesting info graphics to the readers of the blog.

Tech Job
Created by: Masters Degree

Food waste in India the extremes – Blog Action Day

Today is blog action day, and world over thousands of bloggers like myself (although I dont think I am a serious blogger yet) are talking about a common issue. Since 2007, Blog Action Day has focused bloggers around the world to blog about one important global topic on the same day. Past topics have included water, climate change and poverty. This year, Blog Action Day will be held on October 16, which coincides with World Food Day, so naturally our 2011 theme is FOOD.

Here is a video put together by One.org on the issue of Famine and Food. As visible this campaign requires attention from all of us, from the celebrities to the nobodies.

FOOD is something we need to talk about in the near future, as more people are moving away from agriculture to cities in search of lucrative job options, the food crisis is going to get worse. And the situation is not any different in India. India is a country of extremes, there are cities where there are people starving and on the other we have lavish weddings where food is wasted, along with the aping spanish festival of la Tomatina. The worse of these is definitely the rotting of food in the warehouses of the government where food is stored for transportation.

A 2007 estimate from the ministry of food processing says a whopping Rs 58,000 crore (Rs 580 billion) worth of agriculture food items get wasted in the country every year. Private consulting firm Rabo India Finance had prepared the food wastage report and presented it to the ministry. Quoting from the report, Minister of State for Food Processing then, Subodh Kant Sahai told the Parliament that the fact that such a huge quantity of food items goes as waste in the country is an eye-opener for every Indian.

The report said the food wastage is mainly due to lack of post-harvest infrastructure such as cold chain facilities, transportation and proper storage facilities, etc. He said the loss due to wastages could be reduced by a developed food processing industry, strengthening of the post- harvest infrastructure and filling the gaps in the supply chain. The government, through its schemes for financial assistance for development of food processing industry and other promotional measures, plays a proactive and facilitating role for overall development of food processing sector in the country. Sahai said with huge potential of retail driven demand, many retail giants including foreign companies have shown growing interest in Indian agri and processed food products. But has anything changed ?? Not really.

A latest report (as late as May 2011) on the subject by Macroscan suggests that nearly 40% of the food we produce especially vegetables and fruits are lost in post-harvest losses in India and has been held up as the most compelling reason to permit a flood of investment in the new sector of agricultural logistics, to allow the creation of huge food processing zones, and to link all these to retail food structures in urban markets. The urban orientation of such an approach ignores the integrated and organic farming approach, as it does the evidence that sophistication in food processing has not in the West prevented food loss or waste.

All however is not lost, there are individuals that are helping make a change. Using wasted food from pompous weddings and other places, a firm called BIOTECH has improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Kerala, Southern India and saved several tonnes of CO2 per year simply by converting waste to bio fuel. They were provided with the prestigious Ashten Award for Sustainability as well.

Their success is all down to their biogas digester. Designed to be easily installed, it comes in different sizes to process not only home waste but also market and municipal waste. Digestion produces biogas which in turn reduces reliance on more expensive and harder to access LPG. BIOTECH has calculated that the average family can pay back the cost of the digester in three years. They also facilitate the government subsidies which may cover part of the installation costs. By 2009 they had installed 16,000 plants in total.

BIOTECH is a burgeoning organisation. It has tripled in size since 2006 and now employs over 140 people with a wider network of installers. It continues to refine and expand the digester model and to spread the word across the country. Unsurprisingly demand is growing. After all, here is a product that works.

Now are we just going to read this post and think about the food problem or are we going to take an action. Action could be anything from sharing this post for people to read to signing a petition with the government to privatize the warehousing of food or even getting one of these Bio Gas converters for yourself. We need to take action some way anyway possible.

 

Bollywood and Social Media – Ra.One

Bollywood’s interest on the internet was so long left to some ads on youtube, trailers and websites for nearly every movie that tried to provide some “interesting” information about movies. Lately we do see some activity on the social web, Facebook Pages and such started by Aamir Khan during Three Idiots, were quite engaging. Aamir himself on his twitter used to post and interact with people for publicity.

What one does, the next Khan seems to take on seriously and try to outdo. Case in Point, Ra.One. In the past few days if you have not seen an Ad for Ra.One on websites that use Google Adsense, then well you might not be a frequent surfer. Because, I have seen the ads everywhere from Gulf news right through to Labnol.org one of the most famous tech and how to blogs from India. Compelled to click on the ad, I did click on it. This is my review of what I found and where I was taken. An insuisitive thought on the social media campaign for Ra.One.

First of all SRK and Google have partnered for the promotion of the movie Ra.One. Although I am not a big fan of SRK, I am of Google and so when they decide to pay attention to a movie in India, it makes things a lot more interesting for tech fans especially Google fans like myself. So well here are what Google is offering SRK and what I think of those.

The Google Ads

Impressive. One word to describe the campaign. They have targeted audience on various age segments and various interest groups. Starting from the teaser ad which spoke about the launch of the YouTube campaign, right through to the various sizes of ads and the sheer number and visibility of the ads, am impressed. They did manage to not only attain my attention, but also got me to click through. I do click ads on blogs that I usually like as a simple token of appreciation of me liking the blog. Although I know nothing like leaving a comment, but if I have nothing to actually comment I do provide a click on the ad. Well the quality of ads is important to click through, and I should say I was impressed.

YouTube Channel 

The ads on Adsense take you to the custom built YouTube page for Ra.One. If you have not been fortunate enough to check it out yet, you should. I was really impressed again with how they have used the personality of SRK to interact with some of the elements that we are used to seeing on the YouTube page. Here is a sneak peek at the YouTube channel with a video available on the channel itself.

Google Plus

Yes we all heard it, SRK will be on Google Plus Hangouts, Hanging out with fans soon as well. He has a new profile on Google Plus after conquering the twitterscape with his twitter profile. You can check out his Google Plus profile here with this link below:

No you cannot add him yet, cos Google and he are working on privacy, but if you do check out the profile you will see very soon that there are spicy bits to the movie progress there.

Website and other profiles

The end of the video on YouTube takes you to the website of Raone, and you will be really surprised to know how much effort they have put in on the online presence for Ra.One. They have actually gone ahead and created a profile on nearly every interesting social network where you can find people on. From the indian ex favorite Orkut, right through Blogger where they are posting some interesting information.

The website first of all was a bit disappointing after all the roads leading it there. It was completely flash driven made for children sort of a website. Could have been better. But there are some interesting new things from other indian movie websites, the shop where you can buy merchandise (again for children) and also a comic as well. I am thinking the movie is more inclined to get the kids into the theaters. There is also an interesting segment which is deconstruct G One and it shows really heavy terminoligy for the gear he is wearing. You should check it out here : . Reminded me of Prashant Nair :)

Coming to the Online profiles, well I am going to list them out here to save you the trip to the website but if you do want to go then the link is : http://www.raonemovie.com.

Youtube : http://www.youtube.com/raonemovie

Google Profiles : https://profiles.google.com/107544518344682087224/

Blogger : http://raonediary.blogspot.com/

Linked in : http://in.linkedin.com/in/raonemovie (really ??)

Orkut : http://www.orkut.co.in/Main#Profile?uid=18156379693003537934 (Wont open in Dubai, Thanks Etisalat)

My Space : http://myspace.com/Ra.OneMovie

Flickr : http://www.flickr.com/photos/raonemovie/

Twitter : http://twitter.com/#!/IAMSRK (SRK’s Own Profile)

And the Grand Daddy of Social Media Marketing

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/Ra.OneMovie

With this new avatar of Movie Marketing, SRK and RA One have taken another leap into the online world, but how successful the campaign will be can only be measured with the success of movies, well soon you could be seeing more of these.

It is the first time that an Indian movie has so thoroughly embraced online advertising and engagement with fans. Couple that with the increase in online distribution of Bollywood movies on Yahoo! and YouTube and it signals that the industry is making a concerted effort to tap into the online market. The entire campaign also shines some light on the fact that Google seems to have a keen interest in India, and everyone knows to be popular in India you need to be associated with Bollywood and Cricket. With Youtube already showing IPL games live streamed across the country this might be Google’s foray into Bollywood.

Wordless Thursday – Angry Birds Addiction

Angry Birds might be the greatest Mobile game ever created. The craze of the game just keeps increasing, people in the office seem to start playing it in long boring meetings as well. Oh the game and oh the addiction. So much so that someone thought it would be a good idea to make an infographic on the game and its addiction. Check out some really interesting statistics of the game, a “Birds” eye view perhaps.

The producers of the game are growing richer and the users more addicted. I installed the free version on my Android and say what, I could not put down the phone for sometime. Now well nearly though the game, I am kinda over the addiction. However, the Game is still entertaining when Blocks or paper toss does not compel me.

Location, Location, Location … the next big thing

At first there was the humble Mobile Phone, then it received a GPS and with the addition of a camera and smart internet connections, it transformed into the SMARTPHONE. Then came Android and the iOS platforms making it easier for developers to use the platforms and launch new services and applications on them. Apps are all the rage. Through the entire process a new object came to light, the location. With mobiles becoming more location aware, searches could be tailored to what’s nearby.

The world of Check Ins was born. Facebook, Twitter, Google + and other services opted Check ins as a new inclusion into the vast software frameworks. However one company did spark off the initial interest and its popularity is what drove companies to follow. Foursquare. Foursquare has not been the most famous of apps for the mobile phones, but it was really instrumental in making the location based aspects of mobile phones important.

Foursquare is a Social Networking platform that will try and get you to meet people in your vicinity and also provide you with opportunity to meet with like minded people who go to similar places like you. Restaurants offer discounts and offers on Check ins usually and frankly I was happy to see this in Dubai too. We were at the Le Meridean village, Dubliners Pub and restaurant and walla they have a special for check in as well. I am not sure if it still exists but was an interesting find when I was there a few weeks back. Check out Checkin Mania, a site that keeps track of checkins on Twitter, Foursquare, Gowalla and Britekite.

Now they are taking location based applications to the next level. With newer developers now beginning to use Foursquare as a platform for their related Apps new interesting location based games are coming up. Here are a few that might really interest you all.

World of Fourcraft

The World of Fourcraft is a clever Foursquare application which allows users to track their check-ins and use them for ‘social conquest’ gameplay. Currently the application is designed for use within New York City, pitting the five boroughs and the areas surrounding, aptly titled ‘Here Be Dragons,’ against each other.  Signing in with a Foursquare account, players must select – and join forces with – their borough.  ’Borough Buddies’ must then boost their teams status with increased Foursquare check-ins across the city, ‘swarming’ and conquering territory.

There are no prize-incentives, with the app relying on neighborhood pride to encourage play. Users can keep track of their ‘hood’s progress with the Battle Map found on the website.

Check out more about World of Fourcraft

Foursquareopoly

Foursquaropoly turns your city into a Monopoly board and your Foursquare check-ins into a gaming piece.  Players begin with ten-thousand dollars and can buy unclaimed buildings they check-in to using Foursquare.  Rent and upkeep fees are determined by the building’s popularity and are payable by the owner.  Just like the original Monopoly game, players who ‘land’ in a claimed location must pay rent to the virtual landlord.

Originally a student concept, the app is currently in development.

Check out more about Foursquareopoly here.

 

We can only wait

Alas, unfortunately like everything in technology, these games are currently gaining popularity in the US, next it will spread to countries like India and then come over to places like Dubai. However, in the mean time we can get around the various check in stops in Dubai and meet with the different Mayors and Chieftains of Foursquare.

Have not yet tried Foursquare ? here is how you can get it for yourself, FREE. Available for Android, Blackberry, Nokia and the iPhone on http://m.foursquare.com ; visit it on your phone browser.

Wordless Thursday – 14 most common Cosmetic Procedures

Medicine has come a long way, from the days of finding a cure to ailments to now altering appearance in a materialistic world. However, the demand for the doctor is now at the peak with people spending in millions for the sake of appearance. Society has become more and more obsessed with appearance, so much so that some plastic surgery procedures have managed to make it to the list of top 14 medical procedures. In America people sure do like to eat and it shows with liposuction being the top cosmetic procedure with 203,106 done in 2010.

Although it is not very detailed it provides us with some pretty entertaining facts. Did you know there were 62 million CT scans done in 2010 and that 30% of those were unnecessary for diagnosis? For the uninitiated, Wordless Thursday, is this blog’s way of bringing interesting info graphics to light every week on Thursdays.

Inquisitive Interviews : Simmy Mathew – Auditor

Hi all we are back this week again with Inquisitive Interviews, yes it’s not been on for a couple of weeks, and I am to blame completely. However, this week we are back with something inquisitive for you guys to look at. The profile that we will cover today is that of an Auditor. Yes Auditors, the very same people that can give a shiver to many. If at all you wondered what they do and why people seem to be scared of them, well here are probably some answers.

For the uninitiated, Inquisitive Interviews, the feature was born out of the requests by some of the students who read this blog, requesting information regarding careers. And with a view to help them make a better choice, I have started to feature various careers from different people, starting with people I know and hoping to slowly reach many different people. The Inquisitive Interviews feature would not only help the students reading the interview but also the interviewees providing them with some Online PR of sorts, the benefits of which I mentioned in another post earlier.

 

[Q] Tell Us something about yourself (Things like Name, how many years you have been working and anything else you would like to add.)

 I am known as ‘Simmy Mathew’.

Lived in Dubai for the last 14 years and counting….

Work has been part of my life since the last 7 years.

[Q] What do you Do for a living and Where?

I work as an auditor for Ernst and Young, Dubai

[Q] Is the job what you had expected it to be?

Yes, and maybe a little more…I always wanted to be an auditor and I still remember when I was 16, telling my aunt that I wanted to be an auditor and work in the Big4.So, yes! I am living my dream! 😀

[Q] Is the salary what you had expected it to be?

Yes, I started off at the junior level and it was what I expected.

[Q] What is your average day like?

Well, being an auditor means you are never in office but at the clients – auditing their books.  So an average day is working in a team and trying to achieve deadlines. It varies – depending on the industry you are working in, the size of the entity you are auditing…They are times that I am at a client for months and they are times I am at the client for one-two weeks…. and no two days are the same.

 I work with different sets of people , which is a challenge in itself .

[Q] What’s the most interesting part of your job?

The exposure that I get is high and the learning curve is great. ..But I think the most interesting part of the job is multitasking – applying what you learned in different types of industry and getting your work done, supervising your junior staff work, being proactive and planning ahead.

[Q] What’s the most challenging part of your job?

People ….i guess in a country like UAE – you meet different types of people  – different upbringing, different cultures, different nationalities….so working with them…can be a challenge but I love challenges and embrace  them with open arms.

[Q] What’s the part of the job that you don’t like?

Actually nothing……Sometimes it can get monotonous hence maintaining a right mix of work is important.

[Q] Do you get bored at your workplace at all?

I have to say I don’t have time to get bored……so the answer to that would be no!

[Q] Do you report to someone? How much of an impact the person you report to has on your job?

Yes, I do but that varies…it could be a senior/asst manager/ manager.  Basically they are there to review your work and sort out any issues you have while auditing .

[Q] Do you use all the skills that you learnt in school / college? or where did you pick up the skills ?

well, I have to say what I studied in college as my degree was a bachelors in accounting and Finance definitely helped….Also. ACCA had been an added plus point on the growth path.

 Also, at Ernst & young, if you join as a graduate – they have the graduate development program which ensures you are up-to-date with the Ernst & Young methodology and the latest developments in the accounting world. So there are enough training to develop your career at Ernst & Young.

[Q] What are your Alumni? Where did you study?

School              : Our Own English High School, Dubai

University         : Middlesex University, Dubai campus

Currently pursuing my ACCA

[Q] Would you advice younger people to join in your industry?

Yes, I would. But it requires a little effort and being able to manage a lot of work in time pressure situations.

[Q] What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the industry?

Plan ahead. I f you are an university student and want to try a career, decide where you want to get in and plan how you are going to go about it. Have a roadmap to where  you want to go …and that will help you plan your direction.

[Q] Anything else you want to tell the readers?

Love what you do…no matter what industry you are …then work is all fun…otherwise all work and no play will definitely make Jack a dull boy! 😀

[Q] Any online resources you recommend for people taking up this profession?

ACCA website : http://www.accaglobal.com/ 

IAS plus : http://www.iasplus.com/

You can get in touch with Simmy on Facebook at here profile here: http://www.facebook.com/simmy.mathew

If at all you wondered what Auditors do, I hope this would have given you a better idea. Thank you Simmy for an insight into the world of the Auditors, hope you guys the readers are more aware of the work of Auditors. Until next time, Be Inquisitive.

Wordless Thursday – Crafting the perfect Resume

Resume writing is critical throughout your professional life. Resumes open the door to an education, a job, and a lifestyle. While in the past a simple paper resume did the trick, with the messy job market and fast growing technological resources resumes definitely need a sprucing. The slow growth of the job market and the large numbers of graduates makes for a very sticky situation. Of the hundreds of applications, how does an employer choose just one? If your resume doesn’t sparkle, you may just get left in the dust.

Wordless Thursday is this blog’s attempt at bringing interesting infographic to all of you. Hope you have likes them, and like always be Inquisitive.

Wordless Thursday – Killer Cars, the most dangerous

Cars are one of the most common modes of transport, and in Dubai alone there are over 350 people who die is collisions every year according to a Gulf News Article. So while reading that I started looking for the most killer cars, as in the cars in which most of these people die in, it could be just cos the cars are so popular that there are so many of them. And a good percentage of them are “Killer Cars”, of just that the cars are themselves responsible. So do you drive one of these ?

Wordless Thursday is this blog’s attempt at bringing interesting infographic to all of you. Hope you have likes them, and like always be Inquisitive.