Does wearable technology have a future in India?


Today’s wearable technology is more than $700 million industry (Source: IDC reports that the worldwide market for wearable devices will grow to $8 Billion by 2018. Many tech experts and magazines hailed the year 2014 as the “Year of the Wearable”

How have consumers in India accepted wearables that connect, inform and protect at the same time? An Accenture survey in 2014 found that more than half of consumers (52 percent) are interested in buying wearable technologies, similar to tracking physical activity, fitness monitors that help them with managing their personal health. The survey of more than 6,000 people in six countries—Australia, Canada, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States – showed that consumers are also interested in buying smart watches (46 percent) and Internet-connected eyeglasses (42 percent). The survey says that amongst the six countries, consumers in India are showing great interest in buying fitness monitors (80 percent), smart watches (76 percent) and Internet-enabled eyeglasses (74 percent).

There sure is an impressive count of innovative devices in the market. If jewelry is a beautiful piece of work, technology makes it point-blank ‘viable’ at the same time. Ringly is the name the company that creates jewelry and accessories, which can connect to your phone. Skully motorcycle helmets and more economical versions of the helmet can be be a hit in India where bikers risk their lives everyday owing to risky road conditions and rash riding/driving on the roads. The helmet is equipped with a heads-up display, a 180-degree rearview camera and GPS navigation, and is connected to your phone allowing voice-control etc. Biosport earbuds come with biometric sensors and you dont need to charge them. They’re able to collect fitness data, including the user’s heart rate, and feed it directly to your phone.

There are several companies making smart technology adapt to human lives with ergonomic stuff that fit the pocket and lifestyle of urban folks on the move. Companies like Google, Apple, Garmin, Xiaomi, Fitbit, Jawbone, Samsung, LG etc are busy inventing high-end devices for safety and betterment of human lives.

In the US, fitness wearables are already a big phenomenon. People are wearing health trackers all over. The idea of preventive health is slowly picking up in India and with the explosion of lifestyle diseases, I wonder if someone can look into health trackers which can measure calorie intake (Google’s new AI software can count food calories from a photo), measure sugar levels and alert about BP levels etc. The way to make health trackers successful in India given people’s sensitivity to fashion is that it can be bundled in with jewelry or other cool looking things like headphones, bands, shoes, clothes etc. that can give them health information and transmit it to the phone in case of an emergency.

Do you think India is ready for wearables? Share your thoughts with me.

Sanjay Puri has been working on Indian-American issues and facilitating stronger US-India relations through USINPAC (US India Political Action Committee and AUSIB (Alliance for US India Business), two bipartisan organizations that he chairs.

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Dynastic trends in India vs. America


India has been run by a dynasty for major part of its independence. However, 2014 saw a non-dynastic candidate Narendra Modi with very humble roots connecting with young and old and gaining a massive mandate in the 2014 elections. America is also getting ready for the Presidential elections in 2016 and the stakes look high even as campaigning gets rigorous and quirkier with different political parties entering the race, and more than a dozen Republicans and a handful of Democrats announcing that they are running for their party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

I find it interesting that politics has become a family business in India, be it the Gandhi family or the Chautalas in Haryana, or Abdullahs in Kashmir, or Mulayam Singh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh etc. But the US Presidential elections has a couple of similarities with Indian politicians in terms of political dynasties. There is a chance that a showdown between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton in the US Presidential polls could be on the cards. I wonder if like in India, political power is also turning into a family business in America. While a Bush or Clinton dynasty (as President or Vice President) has been around for over 30 years (1981 to 2009) and that is not to say that if you come from a political family, you should be disqualified, in fact there are some natural advantages of being part of one. However, it should not be a system that shuts off other capable candidates as it seems to happen in India, the Karunanidhi family dominated DMK, the Gandhi’s dominated Congress and so on.

Similarly, political lineage is not uncommon in American politics. George Bush was elected as the Land Commissioner of Texas in 2014. He is the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush and nephew of President George W. Bush, who was Texas governor before he took to the White House. Similarly, in Massachusetts, Joseph Kennedy III, son of a former congressman, grandson of a former US senator and presidential candidate (Robert F Kennedy) and the offshoot of the Kennedy family, got re-elected to the US House of Representatives in 2014. As India seems to be moving towards more of a meritocracy in politics, it seems like the US might be lurching more towards a dynasty.

Political dynasties have played a role in American history, but this is also a country that elected President Obama for two successive terms.

Do you support independent political entrants or do you like dynastic candidates? Why? Write to me.

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Is India ready for connected cars?

Are connected cars the missing link for car safety in India? Connected cars and infotainment systems can help India in curbing road accidents: it is time to harness technology and telematics to improve car safety!

Are connected cars the missing link for car safety in India? Connected cars and infotainment systems can help India in curbing road accidents: it is time to harness technology and telematics to improve car safety!

In India, a large number of people die on the roads due to speeding of vehicles and poor traffic conditions. Most cars face everyday nicks and cuts while others call for attention in terms of better safety and technology. One serious road accident takes place every minute, and 16 people die on Indian roads every hour! Car connectivity can play a serious role in curbing accidents and saving lives.

On one hand, Internet penetration and a growing demand for smartphones has turned the country into the second largest smartphone market in the globe. Add to it a renewed interest by the automotive industry in harnessing technology and building smart societies (and cities) in which people and technology help in creating harmonious living conditions. Connected cars and easy-to-use driving support systems are the new face of car technology aimed at reducing traffic congestion in cities and also benefit a car driver by providing him/her with secure, intuitive and comfortable connectivity features.

If connectivity is the new lingo on car safety in the country, looking at the condition of Indian roads and the accident statistics, connected drivers are sure to make happy drivers. A connected car is a car that is equipped with Internet access, and a wireless local area network. It allows a car to share internet access with other devices from within and outside a vehicle. If you are on a V2V (vehicle to vehicle) network, the data exchange which takes place during the traffic hour will prevent accidents and ‘response time’ by alerting, informing and increasing accuracy and control for manual drivers.

A study by Cisco expects the number of smartphones in India to cross over 650 million in next four years. Taking advantage of the vast spread of smartphones and advances in telematics, the idea of  “connected cars” and systems that connect vehicles to the Internet has found a new pace in recent years. India is also a country where the low and middle-class segments overlook safety for car affordability. Even if most car manufacturers selling cars to low-segment car consumers do feel that it lacks safety features, they might make do.

Telematics is not new in global locations like Russia, Brazil, and the US and is used actively to serve different safety purposes. Telematics has been made mandatory in all new vehicles in Europe from the year 2017. In India, I see two major roadblocks for car connectivity: the cost of telematics & the ability of the Connected Car ecosystem to come up with business models that make sense. Interestingly, the value of the global Connected Car market is predicted to reach $30.2bn in 2015 (Source: Visiongain).

Infotainment is a type of media which provides a combination of information and entertainment for car drivers that is getting popular with car owners globally. India is also picking up on infotainment  for enhancing car safety and providing other important features for car safety.

Not only are connected cars the need of the day for India, I see the future of car connectivity to reach next levels with mobile phones effectively synced-in with machines (M2M- Machine to machine communication) and directly or indirectly impact urban lifestyle, be it car sensors that can detect several systems on a car and send this crucial data on a client server, or simply apply the brakes without waiting for the driver’s response time: saving accidents and human lives.

There are several companies in India today who are looking into the economy of a communication systems (V2V & M2M) and Machine-to-machine communication to improve congestions. Many such smartphone-centric devices and apps are already quite popular in the West. They come with built-in speakers for warning when you brake too hard, and store information about one’s driving and how many MPG/week you did, how many miles you drove, information about the engine, whether it was a long or short a journey, GPS, and also track local petrol prices etc. In India, smartphones come equipped with updated bluetooth technology and it wont break the bank or battery while a user is connected.

Do you support cheaper connected technology for saving lives on Indian roads? Share your thoughts and ideas.

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Suit-Boot & Kurta-Pyjama vs Hillary’s & Donald’s Hair

Indian politics vs. US politics: Do clothes and hairdo's really make a difference?

Indian politics vs. US politics: Do clothes and hairdo’s really make a difference?

Indian politics has been on fire in the recent past— Lalit Modi controversy, Indo-Pak strife over Kashmir etc. However it is also about the dress codes that different political leaders are donning these days. The suit-boot allusion by Rahul Gandhi  about the BJP leader Narendra Modi is a reaction to the pinstripe ‘signature’ suit of Modi that ended up making headlines after Modi controversially exhibited it before getting it auctioned off for INR 4.31 crore (Source: Indian Express) .

On the other hand, Rahul Gandhi dresses to highlight Congress’s renewed ideology with his kurta-pyjamas and ‘roll-able’ sleeves that seem to speak for the common man going to work. Dress codes remind me of the AAP workers wearing nostalgic Gandhi caps. All imagery of suit-boot, topis and pyjama-kurtas independently stir different emotions for Indian masses, I find it interesting that US politics has similar image obsessions, comparable with the dress code of Indian politicians.

Only this time around it’s about hairdos! Hillary & Donald have been making news with their distinct hairstyles. Trump’s surges in the polls may be rising with his controversial media coverage (Jeb Bush, Megyn Kelly and so on) but his hairstyle sure makes up on that front as having an identity of its own! One that seems to have a similar level of curiosity such as his stand on Obamacare, immigration policies etc. Why even political commentators, feminists, and cartoonist have been gripped by Trump’s hair!  Recently he had a woman come on stage to tug at his hair to make sure it is real. His campaign has drawn record crowds at some of his rallies, bringing an estimated 30,000 Alabamans to a high school football stadium last week. His #Trumpyourcats memes do speak volumes about the popular hairdo!

Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Secretary of State too has made her way about changing hairstyles. Her views on political issues and policies are enough to keep the media buzzing, but she also likes to stand out with her new hair styles and questions about it.

Do you think clothes/hair should play a role in judging political leaders?

Share your thoughts with me.

Sanjay Puri has been working on Indian-American issues and facilitating stronger US-India relations through USINPAC (US India Political Action Committee and AUSIB (Alliance for US India Business), two bipartisan organizations that he chairs.

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