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The Rise Of Gene Tech & Cleantech
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India had an edge in satellite sensing, speech synthesis, image processing and robotics. Yet the electronics sector (in 1982) produced a mere 0.4 per cent of the global output of electronics goods valued at $300 billion
(Rs 3,00,000 crore).
India got into the biotech league ahead of the curve. However, not by much. Japan, Britain, France, the erstwhile Soviet Union, Brazil, Mexico and China were already working on biotech.
HCL launched the radio modem, with which you could transfer data on your existing communication system.
GIS TAKES OFF
The GIS (geographical information system) software had been around for a decade, but the users — farmers, planners, oceanographers, and defence and telecommunications specialists — just started realising its benefits.
We had a head start over most developing nations, but squandered the lead. The Telecom Commission's announcement that it would permit private Internet service providers would help make up for lost time.
The slowdown in the US economy popped the question: could the software sector continue to grow at the scorching pace it did? The Indian software sector employed about 350,000 professionals, and software firms accounted for 20 per cent of the total market capitalisation at the bourses.
Bangalore was already India's IT city. Soon it would be home to several tech development centres. Bangalore had started to show some characteristics which made Silicon Valley.
Handheld computing devices took off by the end of the 1990s. Palm achieved cult status. The operating system Palm built was licensed out to companies such as Handspring, IBM and Sony.
Chip maker Intel was sparing no effort to push the 64-bit Itanium for servers and workstations. Itanium ran on any operating system and its architecture was licensed to all computer makers; the server and workstation markets would soon see competition similar to that in the PC market.
At a show, a Paris-based fashion house featured a shirt that would change colour with changes in light. A US clothes retailer was planning to make a jacket that could sense a drop in temperature to release more heat. And Levi's had experimented with a jacket with an embedded cellphone and an MP3 player.
INTEL'S BIG BET
Intel introduced what it called the personal Internet client architecture (PCA) — a design for a future wireless PDA
(personal digital assistant). Intel's premise was simple: the cell phone was transforming from a single-function voice-oriented device. Cellular networks would eventually roll out GPRS networks; it would allow data to flow through them.
GAGA OVER GOOGLE
Google became a favourite search engine. Jupiter Media Metrix's stats showed MSN and Yahoo were ahead of Google, but about 45 per cent of Web surfers were happy Googling.
ENTER THE TABLET
Microsoft's Tablet PC created a splash. It was like a paper notepad; you use a pen to write on it. Should you make a mistake, you simply cut it out and rewrite. It failed though.
This technology helped slash your long-distance call charges. Yet, its own growth was muzzled by the same low charges. India was set to be one of the largest markets for this technology. Yet, government regulation restric-ted its usage. Confused? We were talking of the Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP).
LEARNING TO DISCOVER DRUGS
The compound codenamed DRF 2593 by Dr. Reddy's Laboratories was administered to a few thousand diabetes patients across the world. The tests suggested it was well tolerated by patients, reasonably effective as a treatment for diabetes, did not have any serious side effects, and did not cause cancer, cell mutations or harm to the foetus. It was in the running to be India's first original drug.
|How technology changed over the years (BW pic by Tribhuwan Sharma)|
The renewable energy industry was built on dreams. One of the fondest dreams was to produce a renewable hydrocarbon fuel. Industry observers considered Sapphire Energy, a 2007 start-up based in San Diego in California, as one of the hottest biofuel companies. Sapphire developed a process to produce hydrocarbons — petrol, diesel and aviation fuel — directly from algae using sunlight, and they were chemically identical to those derived from crude oil.
COOLING THE WORLD
Climate engineering suddenly took centre stage in the climate debate. The topic was even seeding start-ups. Climos, a San Francisco-based climate engineering firm, raised $3.5 million from Braemar Energy Ventures.
A SHOT IN THE DARK
Even as stem cell research was still in progress, clinics in India started offering stem cell therapy. The lack of regulation made things easy for money-minded clinics. It required only one bad clinic and a few disgruntled patients to bring bad publicity to the genuine stem
cell research in the country.
Business correspondents of banks carry a micro-ATM with them. These are used to cater to the needs of no-frills account holders. The correspondent can help the account holder (located deep in rural India) to deposit or withdraw money.
(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 12-12-2011)