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 ??

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?

India Innovation – USB 3.0 from Bangalore

Yes you are reading it right, a Bangalore based company has just developed the next generation USB standard called SuperSpeed USB 3.0 completely out of Bangalore. Arrow Devices is the company and is a start up based in Bangalore. According to their website, USB 3.0 design transfers data at 5 Gbps, and is 10 times more faster than existing USB Standard. The new standard has proven to transfer a high definition movie file in under 2 minutes versus 14 minutes taken by traditional USB implementations.

The USB 3.0 IP provides a configurable number of Bulk, Interrupt or Isochronous In/Out Endpoints. They also provide DMA controllers which can be used along with their IP in order to build applications that use the USB 3.0 device controller. We can interface to a variety of system buses. The company has bagged Nvidia, one of the top-5 semiconductor companies in the world as a customer for this chip design.

Started in 2008, the company plans to license their design to chip manufacturers for fabrication. As far as USB 3.0 is concerned, the next generation USB standard is expected to hit the market in the coming year, though companies like Intel have clearly stated that they will not support USB 3.0 until 2011.

Checking their website, it looks like the company is based out of a residence, in RT Nagar in Bangalore. I know some of you who will be excited just to know that. Innovation in India is growing, and we are the lucky ones getting a chance to witness India’s growth agian in the industry.

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“iPad Killers” from India

The Indian consumer electronics industry is going through a bit of a overhaul. From “Indian” Mobile Phones to various innovative gadgets, the Indian Electronics Industry is definitely giving a good fight to the international players in India like the Nokia’s, the Samsung’s, the LG’s and the likes. It was all play nice, we are the new kids on the block, until they started to make a dent in the markets of these guys. Most of us know that Nokia has not been performing in the smart phone segment, the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer has its strength in the low cost mobile sector, and that is now being challenged by the likes of Maxx Mobiles,Karbon Mobiles, MicroMax and others.

But looks like Indian Companies are not just happy with making a dent. They are now going for the Mother load, Apple and the likes. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will know about my obsession with the Innovation in India as well as a bit of a hatred with the iPad. What sparked off this post is actually a re look into the Indian Pioneer who decided to take on the Pi, Infibeam. And what surprised me was that they have an iPad lookalike ready, running both Android and Windows as optional. Yes, you did hear that right ! I thought it would make a nice look at these so called, “iPad Killers” from India. So, here goes.

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After Kindle and Pi, now Wink’s from India

While the world holds its collective breath for India to actually mass produce the $35 tablet, the country’s own electronics Industry is not holding its breath and is coming up with loads of electronics for the Indian and International market. After the luke warm response that the Pi has received in India, another e-reader has just been launched in India by EC Media International. The face that it is from Bangalore makes me more happy just to share this news.

This eBook reader will support 15 languages and offer over 2 Lakh, (200,000) book titles when it starts shipping. Infibeam who has already an online bookstore and is really pushing forward with the Pi, just like Kindle, might find it easier to provide more book titles. But the likes of EC media have to come up with many more book publishers as their partners to be able to actually successful, and that is exactly what they have done. The Kindle look alike will offer books from publishers like Penguin, Roli, Oxford University, Harper Collins and Permanent Black.

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India Report Card for Technology 2010 – Part 2

In my previous post I tried to show some of the posts that I had done in relation to India, Innovation and overall progress. I would like to continue down the line on some of the amazing innovations in the sub continent for this year that I have not written about. And the look of the improvements in technology is reaching far more than just the shores of India but also abroad. The so called “sleeping Tiger” from India is awakening, and putting aside the likes of Notion Ink Adam, and PI, there are many more innovations coming out of the sub continent worth mentioning.

In part 1 of the report card I highlighted most of the advancements that I reported in this blog. In part 2 we will look at the other part. The focus here is the government and how they have been instrumental in the introduction of new technology in the Indian Industry. When the government wakes, the country will be much stronger, but alas the government is waking like a guy with hangover not knowing what to do, without direction and focus. But what is heartening to see is that there is a change and the government is responding.

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India Report Card for Technology 2010

First things first, A very Happy Independence Day to all the Indians, and to our neighbors Pakistan as well. It’s the Independence Day today, and really all the focus seems to be in all the wrong areas, like every year, the media is picking up the bad in the country to highlight on this day. From Terrorism, corruption, Maoists, Bandhs, CWG Vs Food, Bollywood, IPL Scandals, Babus, all the flaws of India are being highlighted. I am sure as a child, if you were to point out his/her faults on his/her birthday, I am sure the child would not be really happy, and would be damaged for life. Then why is it that we are doing it to our country  ?? Anyway, for this Independence Day, like the Republic Day in January, I would like to prepare a report card for the technology sector in the country. Of course it is the most shining one and the one sector where it does look India is shining and moving ahead.

First of all If you did not manage to read the report card during the Republic Day, here are the links :

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Forget 3D its time for 5D

Middle east and new innovation is rarely something that goes in the same statement without the use of the word NOT, but off late there have been some changes especially in the field of sustainability and construction (duh .. ) that are fuelled out of Masdar and the construction industry. Interestingly I have been finding titbits of new technology resources that are built around the middle east, like Spark Mobiles, a mobile phone manufacturer in Deira or Merlin, the company that is really pushing alternative innovative technologies in Dubai.

But I found my most interesting innovation yet. arcade goers in the UAE will be able to play 5D games within a year.

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Traffic Signals capable of switching off your car

Governments all over the world have tried everything to try and get motorists to switch off their engines at traffic signals, lets take it from the start; about 10 years ago, India’s best run Government Organization, “Bharat Electronics Limited” came up with a small addition to the traffic lights in India, adding a small timer to the red light letting motorists know how long the signal would stay red. Powered by Solar this new technology was a sort of a marvel in the Indian city. Starting from one experimental signal (BEL Main Road Junction) to spreading all over the city of Bangalore and then the state, now also being rolled out through out the country. The traffic timer was one of the first attempts known to make motorists responsible and try to persuade them to switch off their engines at traffic signals.

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MIT’s NETRA system brings the system to the optometrist

For those of you who would not know, NETRA in most Indian Languages means Eyesight, A few months back I had shared a concept of few guys trying to give a new vision to change the world, quite literally when scientists came out with oil filled glasses which were of course a bit revolutionary, However there might be a need still to do a check if the person needs some corrective glasses. And while looking for Innovative Applications for my new Nexus One, I stumbled upon the new breakthrough from MIT Labs, a new device out of MIT Media Lab’s Camera Culture group utilizes one of the most rapidly proliferating technologies in the developing world – mobile phones – to make the diagnostic process of refractive errors of the eye, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and age-related vision loss, both affordable and accessible to underprivileged populations. NETRA (Near-Eye Tool for Refractive Assessment) uses a phone’s LCD display and intelligent software to administer a quick, effective and accurate vision test that patients can perform at home.

There are two standard ways of determining a patient’s corrective eye wear prescription. One involves looking through a large, clunky device fitted with various lenses swung before the eye until the one that produces the clearest image is found. The other shines a laser into the eye, using an array of tiny lenses to measure the patient’s vision characteristics. But in the developing world, access to these diagnostic systems is both extremely limited and prohibitively expensive.

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Indian Innovation for Charging Phones

We Indians are usually not knows for Innovation, but the culture is changing. Or should I say the mindset of people going from I need a good job to I need to start something of my own is coming in. And the basis of this seems to be innovation. People are beginning to think on why there is the need to develop stuff for other companies when you can make it as your own. In a case where this concept is getting more obvious, I would like to showcase some scenarios where Indian Innovators have come up with solutions for the country made by people in the country, which of course is a recipe for success.

In our journey we will start with Mobile Chargers, one of the biggest woes these days when it comes to mobile phones is the fact the batteries do not last. And Batteries not lasting is a even more of an issue in developing countries as there might be no electricity to charge them back on. Well lo and behold, these innovations will help.

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