Futuristic Laptops

October 16, 2008

Lenovo has always attracted PC customers with attractive offers. When the company launched a complete new range of futuristic consumer PCs – seven new notebook PCs with five choices of screen size and a diverse palette of color, style and design – in Bangalore yesterday it left everyone baffled.

The new generation PCs are loaded with futuristic features including expanded facial recognition for simple and convenient log-in, Gesture recognition for ease of use, One-Key Rescue System to recover data with just one touch and High-definition entertainment features.

Lenovo has recived an overwhelming response to its consumer PC range, now the comany is investing further in the Indian market with the launch of this impressive new product range.  With this launch Lenovo has made a statement that it aspires to becom the leader in of PC market in India.


Document Image Processing for Indian scripts

September 1, 2008

HP, IISc working silently to make DIP a reality and revolutionize how we work

Two years from now, computer users may be able to convert hand written or printed literature in Kannada, Telugu and other Indian languages into editable documents, audio files or even translate local language text to English in seconds.

This process of Document Image Processing (DIP) has gained importance for creating seamless co-existence of the paper and the digital world. A few modern enterprises completely depend on digital world, but most government works, company works continue to exist in paper forms, resulting in waste of time, space and maintenance costs.

This is where the area of document image processing comes in, to make a machine deal with paper, by trying to break the opacity of the paper. A paper can be digitized to enter the IT world using a scanner or cameras. However, unless they are intelligently processed, the paper images continue to have many of the bottlenecks of paper.

Though DIP has gone well with English and a few other languages with development of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software, there has been no organized effort to develop the technology for any India scripts, and experts in the field have been scattered, working for different organizations.

Perhaps, the first ever effort to make linguistic experts, technicians, and researchers come together and work for developing technologies to make Indian languages available for DIP is being make at the Summer School on DIP, organized at the Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore in association with HP Labs, India.

“Unlike English, which has been successfully adopted for DIP, Indian languages aren’t easy to be made recognizable by character as each word can come in different forms, conveying different meanings. The Summer School is an effort to establish a society of resources who are otherwise operate on different projects in their respective organizations,” says R.N. Sitaram, coordinator of the summer school and senior research scientist, HP Labs.

Efforts to make Kannada or Telugu adoptable to DIP is still at the early stages. The most challenging issues faced by experts are related to making the machine recognize various forms of words. Only after these issues are sorted out that the OCR software can be developed for any language, Sitaram observed.

According to A.G. Ramakrishnan, one of the co-ordinators of the Summer DIP school and an associate professor with department of Electrical Engineering, IISc, OCR can recover valuable information and format it in reusable form. Information can be gathered from old paper files, resumes and applications, forms, address labels, etc., and can also help digitalize the libraries thus, saving time and money.

People are used to paper and value paper as an instrument to make any transaction authentic, like receipts, bills, transaction certificates, land records and legal agreements. Converting these documents to electronic format can benefit governments and organizations in terms of speedy execution of works, cost, time efficiency besides bringing more transparency in work.

Web 2.0 helping businesses become Agile

August 28, 2008

Web 2.0 is the hot trend on the Internet. Web designs based around Web 2.0 has revolutionized the whole way of sharing information and using the Internet as an exciting and more interactive experience.

 Today, Web 2.0 has changed the way modern businesses are conducting, using the Internet as a platform. Shankar Krishnamoorthy, CTO and Co-founder of Aspire Systems shared his experiences with me Web 2.0 in an interview.

Q: How far has Web 2.0 influenced modern businesses?
SHANKAR KRISHNAMOORTY: Web 2.0 brings in more customer participation in doing the business. If you are in product development, customers can take part in building the product they want much ahead in the development cycle. If you look at classical engineering methodologies, you talk to the customer, get their input, build the product and release it to them. In this mode, customer gets the chances either at the beginning or at the end of the cycle. However, with Web 2.0, you involve the customers throughout the development cycle and shape the product according to their needs. Your customers will get an opportunity to give feedback and also test the waters on newer features.
This can be done through wikis, collaboration tools, surveys, online broadcasts/podcasts, etc. These Web 2.0 tools help the modern business to collaborate and participate more.

Q:  Your company is involved in product lifecycle services. Can you explain your own experiences with Web 2.0?
SK: Our experience involves on two folds:
a) Building Web 2.0 features into the products that we build. Several products that we have built in the past two years have Ajax incorporated. Users get very good desktop-like experience while using Ajax.
b) Using Web 2.0 for our project execution and marketing communication. We use Web 2.0 extensively for collaboration. In fact, http://www.producteering.org is a site built and promoted for producteers by producteers. This site has lot of Web 2.0 features. Aspire has built and promoted this site.

Q: Knowledge sharing becomes easy with Web 2.0. However, some companies might not want to share their internal knowledge for reasons of competition, not even within the whole company. Do you see a change happening?
SK: Knowledge sharing is governed by ‘how the sharing helps in fostering knowledge and also how it helps each other’s work’. If knowledge is just shared for the sake of educating each other, that initiative will not last long. When knowledge sharing is really beneficial from solving problems perspective, it gets different dimension. More people would like to share and re-use knowledge.
While Web 2.0 makes it easy to share knowledge, ‘what can be shared’ purely depends on the nature of business. We have built two knowledge-sharing platforms inside our company – Seventh Sense and Aspireforge. The first one is used for sharing knowledge on the lessons learnt, case studies, training materials, etc. AspireForge is for reusable components.
Both platforms help our people in sharing knowledge. However, we do not allow our people to put customer specific materials in these platforms. This measure is to protect our customer IPs.

Q: What does Web 2.0 mean for SMBs? Is it an affordable technology?
SK: Absolutely. I would answer it in two ways:
It is affordable by SMBs. There is no major cost involved other than whatever they are currently spending. Two, there are lot of open source tools available to board onto Web 2.0 – wordpress, mediawiki, pbwiki, etc. Putting together a Web 2.0 platform is actually an easy one. It is an affordable technology.
The major requirement in putting this Web 2.0 platform is the ability to drive the cultural change. This goes all the way from handling customer complaints, listening to customer feedback and responding back quickly, etc.
Q: Do you anticipate a major shift in corporate culture by adopting Web 2.0?
SK: Yes. There will be a shift in corporate culture. Corporates tend to become more agile and faster in responding compared to classical ways of execution. Again, let us take an example of product development.
The entire world is moving towards shorter development life cycle, more involvement of customers, etc., That means, you start with a feature development, complete it in two weeks, and release it to the end users to get their feedback. This two-week development brings in a different approach and makes the teams more agile.

Virtual Girl Friend

August 19, 2008

Don’t have a girl friend? Bored of sleeping alone? You may no longer need to worry now!

Days are not far when you can have a virtual girl friend to sleep with, if not a real one! All of this has just become a possibility with a new interactive installation created by Drew Burrows, a New Yorker.

Brew Burrows’s virtual girl friend is a good friend indeed. She starts reacting as you enter the bed fitted with the installation. She can curl up, change sleeping positions as you change yours, and even rolls and buries her face if you kiss her. The only hitch — you can’t feel her.

The virtual girl friend in question is noting but a two-dimensional image. Drew has used an “infrared sensitive” light projection to make all this real.

The installation has been developed so as to give both the sensations of being alone and having someone in the bed with the viewer at the same time. The aim of the piece was to speak on the feelings of loneliness, affection, and intimacy.

In an chat with me, Drew Burrows said that the piece involves previously recorded footage of a woman sleeping in various positions on a bed, filmed from above. An infrared camera is mounted next to the projector and reads the position of a real live person who climbs into the bed. As the person gets into and moves around the bed the woman sleeping is manipulated according to the real life person.

Drew says it took him a course of few months to put together the installation. “I enjoy working with projections on unconventional surfaces and I wanted to create an art installation that could convey the feelings of loneliness, intimacy and affection. The intent was to make the person projected intangible.” Browns added.

The NewYorker said that he is currently in the process of working with a few galleries around NYC to put up the new installation. Besides, he is also experimenting with a wider range of projection footage and slightly different surfaces.

However, it may still take quite a time for these installations to be commercially available so that people can have the virtual girl friend in homes. There will be no commercial release immediately, Drew Burrows said.

India poor in R&D

August 7, 2008

The  India IT industry is on an edge when it comes to research and development (R&D) activities. Apart from a poor rate of patents registrations from the country, the number of new companies setting up shop has dwindled 40 percent from 2005 to 2007; sub-scale captives no longer find it viable to maintain multiple R&D centers.

The cost factor, talent availability, improved infrastructure and increased domain experience remained the top reasons for offshoring to flourish in India early 2000s. However, cost is no more a key driver for offshoring R&D operations to India as companies seek to value the skilled R&D talent pool and emerging market opportunities also, according to a study conducted by Zinnov Management Consulting.

India R&D Patents Story

Cost not a key driver to offshoring R&D

2,387 is the number of patents filed in 2007

250,000 engineers working in R&D ecosystem

Ranked 58th in the Global R&D innovation performance index

India wants to level the playing field by 2020

The drop in newcomers primarily has to do with the fact that all large captives wanting to benefit from a cost or talent perspective are already in the country. The availability of fast English speaking talent and cost factor still remains the USP of the Indian industry. If only the cost talent is leveraged, then the R&D offshoring will shift to vendors who would look for cheaper destinations elsewhere.

There are 250,000 engineers working in R&D ecosystem in India. However, the number of patents filed in India was as low as 2,387 in 2007 compared to South Korea (22,976) and Taiwan (18,486). South Korea and Taiwan have emerged as dominant players with patent rates of 23 percent and 14 percent, respectively, says Pari Natarajan, CEO, Zinnov Management Consulting.

India is ranked 58th in the Global R&D innovation performance index by EIU and is expected to climb only two levels up by 2011. The new findings come when India wants to level the playing field with the other “South Asian Tigers by 2020. To achieve this, India will need to grow at an average rate of 45 percent per annum in patent filing.

Natarajan said: We expect the R&D offshoring industry to grow at CAGR of 23 percent in an optimistic market scenario; wherein majority of the growth will be driven by large R&D centers and service providers. Most of the R&D centers in India are small firms with global revenue of less than USD 100 million.”

On an average, the small R&D centers contribute between 80 percent and 90 percent of global R&D of the companies, whereas large R&D centers contribute about 25 percent to 35 percent to the global R&D. Natarajan added that the India centers are striving to become high-value centers. They have realized that there is strong need to have a local leadership in India and many MNCs senior executives in the country, he said.

R&D offshoring to India is now a $9.35 billion industry, with MNC-owned R&D centers accounting for about $5.83 billion of this market. This is expected to grow to be a $21.4 billion industry by 2012.

2.0 Platform for India Mobile Internet Users

August 1, 2008
July Systems, a pioneer in mobile internet products, has developed Mi SMS – the industries first mobile 2.0 platform  for Indian mobile users – that delivers live, personalized multi-media channels on mobile devices.

The Mi SMS enables Indian mobile phone users to access favorite brands (websites) on the mobile. Any Internet enabled mobile device with WAP, GPRS, Data, etc service can be activated for the service.  The content on the mobile internet is offered free of charge but data charges may apply.

Rajesh TS Reddy, CEO, July Systems said Mi SMS was unique for mobile handsets and different from PC browsing model. The solution enables mobile users users to access content hosted on the active portals in compressed form with usability from mobile users perspective.

Mobile 2.0 Platform

Mobile 2.0 Platform

Further, the solution enables the internet mobile users to customize the portals of their choice. For media houses Mi SMS enables consumer adoption of the mobile internet, reach their consumer in rich and interactive manner and build a long term relationship with consumers.

A mobile user can access the Mi SMS service by sending SMS to 53838 with keywords like “MiNEWS”, “MiCRI”, or “MiSTO”. The sender will receive a link that connects to the mobile internet for detailed multimedia content. News with images and video, cricket scores with auto refreshing ball-by-ball commentary, stock quotes with symbols, graphs and company news can be browsed.

July Systems will monetize the service by placing banners, videos and contextual text ads targeted according to location, content and the profile of the user. At present the users can access live content from NDTV Convergence and few more media portals have show interest in the service Reddy said. 

Indian opportunity

There are 106 mobile internet users in India. Compared to the percentage of mobile internet users in other fast developing economies such as China and Brazil, India has a higher ratio of mobile internet users and the market is fast growing.

But only about 20-40 million mobile internet users are using the facility as content and user experience for mobile is limited and fragmented. Further, usage of mobile internet is limited to browsing the operator portal.