How IoT, AI start-ups are building new businesses
At Mint’s Enterprise Technology Summit, four start-ups that use the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence talk about how these technologies are giving birth to new ideas
New Delhi: At the 2017 edition of Mint’s Enterprise Technology Summit, four start-ups that use the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies gave five-minute presentations each showcasing how these technologies are giving birth to new, on-ground business ideas. These sessions were meant to highlight the progress in new age tech domains and the possibilities of applying them to multiple sectors and industries. Edited excerpts:
Sensors with intelligence
Prabhakar K. Chaudhary, director, HAL Robotics
HAL Robotics started operations less than a year ago to make non-living objects used by consumers more interactive. “But what is robotics in the first place? Robotics is anything that makes non-living objects interactive and enables them to take decisions,” said Chaudhary.
During the last one year, different products have been developed by the company. One of the products that Chaudhary displayed appeared like a cigarette box which was actually a small device capable of communicating on any wireless product and transmitting on multiple possible protocols. “It can connect to a Bluetooth system, it can connect to a usual radio frequency system, it can also connect to some low power sensor,” he said. An algorithm decided what information needs to be transmitted from the sensor in the device.
“‘How can I remotely control the thermal or humid environment? How to monitor certain gases in plants? How to track my shipment and to find out whether it has been subjected to free fall?’, these are some of the use cases we are working on,” he added.
According to Chaudhary, security of the information transmitted is one of the major priorities for the company. “All the protocols of transmission are controlled by us and the entire stack which is built by us is approved by security experts,” he explained.
HAL Robotics, which started as a two-member organization, now has around 20 people and is planning to add another five soon.
Rishabh Agarwal, director, RVM Recycle Pvt. Ltd
Conceptualized by three Indian School of Business alumni, including Agarwal, RVM Recycle Pvt. Ltd aims to revolutionize solid plastic waste management in India. The company has created a product, Zeleno, based on “reverse vending” technology. The automatic waste collection and segregation machine can process plastic, steel and aluminum bottles or cans, and reward people for their contribution towards Swachh Bharat Abhiyan through discount/gift coupons, e-wallet money and free Wi-Fi access.
“It helps in segregation of waste at source and motivates individuals to start recycling. We are working in close association with New Delhi Municipal Corporation and the ministry of urban development,” said Agarwal.
“In India, around 60-65% of the plastic waste gets recycled but there is a huge proportion of 30-35% which doesn’t get recycled and this gap is increasing at a drastic pace because of urbanization. Globally, one out of five bottles are recycled but in India we are still far behind,” he added.
The machines installed by RVM, according to him, have a sensor-based mechanism wherein the capacity of the machine is detected. It also calculates the time taken to fill up the machine.
The cost of transportation in waste management is reduced greatly by using these machines.
“Unlike the municipal corporation vehicles making rounds daily to collect waste, we send our vehicles once the machine sends an alert that it is almost full, i.e., around 80%. These machines are connected to a central server which can be configured and turned on and off remotely,” said Agarwal.
Peer payments? Possible
Rohit Taneja, co-founder and director, Mypoolin
Mypoolin was founded by Taneja (Indian Institute of Technology Delhi) and Ankit Singh (Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi) in 2014 as a social peer-to-peer payments app. Prior to the app, Mypoolin was initially launched as a Web application.
The company’s primary goal, according to Taneja, is to make sure that whenever people are collecting or settling money as a group, the process remains “convenient and simple”—both on the Web and the mobile.
The app uses UPI (Unified Payments Interface) to collect and settle daily expenses among friends. Users can also plan and pay together for group-gifting, movies, vacations, concerts, events and parties.
UPI is a payments system launched by the National Payments Corporation of India that facilitates instant fund transfers between two bank accounts on a mobile platform, without the need for including any details of the beneficiary’s bank.
“We have incorporated AI to automate the process of verification of customers for non-Aadhaar cases—based on driving licences and Permanent Account Number cards, among others,” said Taneja.
Connect for energy efficiency
Vishal Bansal, co-founder and chief operation officer, Zenatix Solutions
Founded in 2013, Zenatix provides a cloud-based energy analytics solution that collects data from several electrical products and breaks it down into actionable insights.
“It is estimated that commercial buildings on average waste around 30% of the electricity they consume and it is a big challenge for companies today to manage their electricity expenses,” said Bansal.
The problem gets bigger when the company is a retail chain with thousands of outlets spread across the country. Such companies spend crores of rupees on electricity every year and for them driving energy efficiency through manual controls is just not an option, he added.
Recognizing the business opportunity to render services to retail chains and bank ATMs, among others, Zenatix has launched a tailor-made product, WattMan, which consists of sensors and control points. These get installed at the targeted outlets and data is sent to the cloud server “every 30 seconds”, according to Bansal.
“We collect 50 million data points every single day. On the cloud server, our proprietary IoT and AI stack analyses the data along with a variety of metadata—for example, what is the current season, what is the occupancy of the space, etc.—and drives an intelligent control system,” he added.
WattMan ensures all electrical assets are being turned on or off always at the right time, enabling Zenatix to “deliver up to 30% electrical savings”, according to Bansal.
He said tracking the health status of all the electrical assets is also done by the solution, which raises an alarm as soon as it can predict that a failure will take place in the near future.
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