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Top Tech Trends That Can Work Here Too

The tech on offer at the Consumer Electronics Show 2017, which took place in Las Vegas in January ’17, was severely criticised for being very West-centric. But Steve Blakeman does not agree. He believes all of the key trends witnessed in Las Vegas can work just as well in markets

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The tech on offer at the Consumer Electronics Show 2017, which took place in Las Vegas in January ’17, was severely criticised for being very West-centric. But Steve Blakeman does not agree. He believes all of the key trends witnessed in Las Vegas can work just as well in markets

Automotive: The main tech themes for cars are around electrification, autonomy and connectivity. All of which, though in their infancy, have a place in the evolution of India’s automotive industry. Electric cars, particularly those fitted with backup solar panels on the roof, make a lot of sense in a country that gets more than it’s fair share of sunshine! Car sales are increasing in India. In 2015, 2.03 million vehicles were sold which was a record. While data isn’t yet available for 2016, initial indications are that the record will be broken for the second consecutive year. Interestingly, the sales of luxury marques have also witnessed a significant spike with sales of around 35,000.

To accelerate sales of electric vehicles in India, the ‘National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020’ was launched by the government in 2013. It is a strong indication that the government is keen to plan for a major switch to electric transport in the coming years with ambitious plans to achieve cumulative sales of 15-16 million units by 2020. This will also have huge implications on vehicular pollution in India. The next developmental stage will be the introduction of charging stations. Inevitably, it will take time, but these infrastructure issues are no different to the challenges faced by other countries around the globe.

With regard to autonomous vehicles, there is a long running debate that they are simply not viable in India due to the chaotic nature of the traffic on India’s roads. For example, just recently R. C. Bhargava, chairman of Maruti Suzuki, was quoted saying, “driverless cars will not work in India.” However, according to the experts at the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) who have just released their vision of a self-driving car for India which they say will be semi-autonomous: “This technology can be used to assist night-driving, at certain speeds on select corridors, and can potentially cut down on the number of road accidents. We believe it will be much safer (when the technology matures), as the sensors fixed on the car can sense 360 degrees, and see farther than the human eye can.”

The connected car is an automotive ‘mega trend’ that is as important in India as it is anywhere else in the world. In fact, it is considered so important in India that there is a dedicated conference scheduled in November ‘17 in Pune to specifically discuss topics like how the connected car will shape the motor industry for the next decade and beyond.

It’s predicted that every car manufactured from the year 2025 will have some level of connectivity. And the real key to all of this connectivity will be data. The amount of information that can be taken from people’s driving habits is like gold dust to a whole variety of industries from advertising to insurance. By analysing where the drivers go, how they drive and the diagnostics from the vehicle itself will enable businesses to better target their consumers with a vast array of personalised information, products and services. For instance, a car will be able to tell when its tyres need replacing, where one can get them changed and also offer a variety of costs. And when a car owner is looking for a better insurance quote, he/ she can give insurers access to their data so insurers can monitor what a safe driver one is and offer the car owner a better premium.

Robots: Unsurprisingly, the countries with the highest density of robots per head of population are Japan, South Korea and Germany. By comparison, India is lagging behind. Robot sales actually declined in 2015 to 2,100 units. That said, given the abundant and cost-effective workforce in the country that isn’t a big surprise.

However, when it comes to alternative robotic applications (e.g. smartphones with artificial intelligence), India ranks as one of the fastest growing markets on the planet. For instance, Panasonic India recently announced that it would spend $10 million on the development of sophisticated technology to help integrate AI within its handsets.

And the millennial generation clearly feels that AI is the way forward. A recent study by Deloitte shows that millennials in India are more likely to be the strongest supporters of AI and robotics because they do not feel as ‘threatened’ by their arrival as the older generations.

In fact, around 83 per cent of millennials are of the opinion that AI will boost the overall productivity at work and 77 per cent of them believe that the introduction of robotics will significantly improve economic growth in India.

Virtual Reality (VR): This was the year when VR went from being interactive to immersive led by Samsung demonstrating its 4D technology. So if you want to ride in a Star Wars X-Wing fighter, its no problem now.

So is the same tech on offer in India? Of course, and not only that, the country is a veritable hotbed of VR talent and ingenuity. Take Hyderabad-based Merxiu for example. It offers a product called RealSim Editor (or RED for short) which the founders have billed as Photoshop for virtual reality. The tool is being beta tested by the Indian Armed Forces in the creation of a training module for engine maintenance.

Another example is Tesseract, which aims to completely transform the way we record, consume and share content. Its Methane 360 VR product has proved to be a major success in the travel industry and in the realms of real-estate where it is being utilised by companies such as Grabhouse and Nestaway. And Tesseract’s latest piece of tech, ViCAM, is being billed as the world’s smallest 360 virtual reality camera.

So can India still be seen as a laggard when it comes to adopting the latest tech trends? Well, it’s far from it. As you can see from the few examples cited in this article not only is India keeping up in terms of utilising cutting edge technology, in certain areas, it’s actually at the bleeding edge.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Steve Blakeman

Steve Blakeman is the Managing Director - Global Accounts, OMD Europe

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