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Business News/ Companies / HCL Tech plans to invest in emerging technologies

India’s fourth-largest software services company HCL Technologies Ltd plans to “invest significantly" in applications of emerging technologies such as those that power driverless cars and enable the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable devices.

“In the automotive industry, we are looking at areas like driverless cars. It is one of the robotic concepts that we have been working on," said G.H. Rao, president of engineering and R&D (research and development) services at HCL Technologies in an interview last month.

The company, for instance, is investing in the “active safety systems of self-driven cars" that help avoid collisions. “There are a lot of things which can use imaging in a car, including giving you a 360 degree view of your car, when you are driving. That, in turn, will lead to driverless cars because now you have complete software and electronics in a car which can steer it towards safe zone wherever you are," said Rao.

Rao also sees “IoT’s early adaptation in smart cities, transportation, utilities and healthcare".

IoT for smart homes is one such application that HCL Technologies has invested in. “You have a gateway installed in your house, which gets connected to all devices in your home... switches, door opener, air conditioners, rice cooker, water pump, anything electric...," said Rao.

Gaming is another area of interest for the company. “If you take entertainment and gaming, IoT can bring the whole revolution. IoT will take gaming events to physical devices as you know," Rao said, adding that “with IoT, we can have physical games such as bike racing online".

IoT is being embraced by many Indian information technology (IT) firms including India’s big software services exporters Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, Infosys Ltd, Wipro Ltd and Tech Mahindra Ltd.

“Mobile, Cloud, Big Data and Social are converging to enable countless applications of IoT in the future—and of all the disruptors in play today, IoT could very well be the biggest," said Frank Diana, who heads the Digital Enterprise Solutions team at TCS’ Global Consulting Services in a 30 January 2013 blog, adding that the major IoT applications for TCS include smart products and smart automation.

Mandar Vanarse, consulting partner—CIO advisory, innovation, EA and strategy—Global Transformation, at Wipro Ltd., said in a report published earlier this year, “The ultimate achievement in this space will be the driverless car. The IoT will not only bring the process efficiency to enterprises and comfort to human life, but advanced robotics and knowledge work automation."

While the global market size of IoT is projected to reach $7.1 trillion by 2020, according to research firm International Data Corp., the global wearable computing market will grow from $9.2 billion in 2014 to more than $30.2 billion in 2018, according to BCC Research, a US-based technology research firm.

Similarly, the global driverless car industry will be worth $87 billion by 2030, said a report by Lux Research.

Analysts like Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst and chief executive officer, Greyhound Research, believe that “companies are spreading themselves far too thin". He added that while emerging technologies are definitely going to be important in future, “creating enough proof points of what they have started, for instance services on cloud, is much more important".

Gogia says while IoT is being deemed as the next big thing, the market hasn’t matured, so the revenues are going to be near negligible.

Shares of HCL Technologies rose 2.59% to close at 1,738.70 on Friday on BSE, while the benchmark Sensex index declined 1.28% to 26,297.38 points.

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Updated: 13 Oct 2014, 02:01 AM IST
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