Innovative Indian companies are ensuring that the latest personal technologies reach us quickly, affordably.
Bangalore, January 4 2015: It may be too soon to say with certainty, what all new technologies will touch us during 2016. But some pointers are already out there -- and anticipating them will help us future-proof our purchases of personal and lifestyle gadgets in the next few months.
Here are some pointers based on recently launched products -- almost every one of them, crafted by Indian brains.
On-demand video streaming
As of December 31, all TV sets in India have perforce, gone digital in their sourcing content. In 2016, we can expect pay-by-use on-demand movie streaming services to ride this digital wave. Netflix, the US-based leader in this niche is widely expected to enter the Indian market this year. Also to launch soon, from Svomeka Technologies, is the first content-agnostic video and audio streaming device and platform --Yoohu -- which promises India -relevant design, content catalogue and compelling pricing. At its simplest, Yoohu comes in the form of a compact stick which plugs into the HDMI port of your TV. A larger YooHu Station works with home theatre systems.
Wearable devices are shaking out into two streams: smart watches which mate with a phone or pure play health trackers. Both categories have remained a bit too pricey in 2015 to become mass products, but that is changing: the most aggressively priced health tracker so far has just come from Pune-based Swipe Technologies. The Rs 1299 Swipe F-Band, tracks steps taken & calories burned; monitors how long and how well you sleep; and syncs with phone or tablet to via Bluetooth to view fitness and sleep records. It also provides incoming call alerts.
In the smart watch space , is another Indian product, the gesture control-enabled Hug, a world-first to integrate and enhance customer experience in Virtual Reality with Microsoft's upcoming Oculus Rift headset. In addition to traditional features: make calls, track physical activity and nutrition and play music, Hug offers a gesture-based security feature which interprets a hand gesture as sign of distress. You can also play music, dim room lights or find videos online, with a simple hand gesture. Weighing just 46 grams, the Hug smartwatch is compatible with Android, iOS, Windows devices and uses Bluetooth 4.0 to pair with devices. It comes with 2GB built-in storage and 128MB RAM and will be available soon at Flipkart.
If you haven't made your new year resolution yet, I have a suggestion: 'I shall charge my phone wirelessly this year.' Charging pads on which you can place your mobile phone to charge it, have become mainstream -- and affordable. Do a search on online selling sites and you can find many models from Rs 500 up. Pepperfry, the furniture site has just launched a bedside table -- Nexo Knight- with a built- in charging surface. Place your phone or phones on the table, when you go to bed -- and they are charged by morning. Of course, you have to connect the table to a power socket -- and your phones must be Qi-enabled ( the standard for wireless charging). Most new phones will be Qi-ready this year; but you can still use wireless charging pads with your current handset by buying a Qi chip and slipping it under the cover of the phone. Nexo Knight tables cost 19,299 or Rs. 21,399, depending on the model.
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On this page during 2015,we reviewed, the SkyKids tablet from Mitashi, the iRevo Smart Mini PC for children and the Swipe Junior mobile phone for those little fingers -- all made-in-India products. These products filled parents' need for safe computing and calling tools for their children. The Intel -fueled Eddy Tablet is another popular learning tool A recent 7-inch kids tablet launched by Delhi-based Ambrane, the AK-7000, complete with WiFi, 2G calling, 2MP camera and 4GB of space costs just Rs 2799 on some online sites.
In recent weeks we saw yet another child safety device from the Bangalore-based SafeInTheCity -- Angel Candy -- 'the world's smallest phone-plus-GPS tracker' for use by kids. In addition to 2-way calling, it allows parents to hear their kids and track their location, setting up a safe zone, without disturbing hem, even when they are in school.( Rs 3500). There is an even smaller card sized GPS device -- Angel ID -- which slips into the child's ID card holder( Rs 5000).
One Hyderabad startup Bulbulapps, has focussed sharply on for pre-school Kids. Two weeks ago it announced its free to download for smartphones and tablets ( Android, iOS and Windows). The brainchild of founder-CEO Prakash Dantuluri, they include some 55 folk tales, mythology and rhyme stories in English, Hindi and Telugu almost all of them free. It is the top iOS app for children in India.
Most headphones are made for adults and will be too big to be worn by children. So Brainwavz Audio had the happy thought of launching Kidwavz KV-100 Bluetooth wireless headphones for children in India between 4 - 14 years in age. Nicely cushioned with an adjustable headband for younger users, it costs Rs 2499 and comes in pink and blue for girls and boys! -- Anand Parthasarathy