Convergence Plus
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Technology, internet can bridge gap in education: Prez

Technology, internet can bridge gap in education: PrezMukherjee was speaking at the inauguration of three digital initiatives in the education sector - 'Swayam', 'Swayam Prabha' and National Academic Depository by ministry of human resource development.
The spread of technology, telecom penetration and Internet has offered an opportunity to bridge the divide in education in terms of access and quality which must be seized, President Pranab Mukherjee said today. Mukherjee was speaking at the inauguration of three digital initiatives in the education sector - 'Swayam', 'Swayam Prabha' and National Academic Depository by ministry of human resource development.

"Digital technology enables good teachers to directly teach large number of students who are not physically present in classes. ICT solutions offer an interactive learning experience through which students in remote parts of the country can benefit from lectures of the top teachers," he said. Swayam and Swayam Prabha are digital classrooms the contents of which can be accessed either through Internet or direct-to-home service respectively.

National Academic Depository will have education certificates of every student in digital form which will ease the process of verification and also do away with the chances of forgery. Through Swayam, courses will be offered through digital classrooms with study material available online in videos. It will be available free of cost, however students wanting certifications shall be registered, shall be offered a certificate on successful completion of the course, with a small fee, the Swayam website states.

The student will have opportunity to ask questions which will be answered in real time. Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian has also prepared a series of lectures on the Indian economy for Swayam and Swayam Prabha. The students will be assessed through proctored examination and the marks and grades secured in this exam could be transferred to the academic record of the students, according to the website.

Swayam Prabha will tap into the potential of Direct- to-Home Service wherein a person can install the dish antenna for about Rs 1,500 and have access to 32 digital educational channels run by the HRD ministry. Everyday, there will be new content for at least four hours which would be repeated five more times in a day, allowing the students to choose the time of their convenience, Additional Secretary in UGC Pankaj Mittal said. The course content will cover almost every aspect of education in various fields from class nine onwards and preparatory courses for institutes like IITs.

"The quality of teaching and learning process is the heart of higher education. We have seen huge difference in the quality of attainment levels in higher education between the urban and rural areas, between the states and between institutions within a state," he said.
Mukherjee said there are large numbers of students who study in vernacular languages whereas most of the knowledge is still in English. "I call upon you all being the leaders of the higher education system to make concerted efforts to bridge this gap," he said. (Source: ETtelecom)

New miracle material may lead to unbreakable smartphones

New miracle material may lead to unbreakable smartphonesScientists have discovered a new 'miracle material' with improved chemical stability, lightness, and flexibility, which could be used to make smartphones and other devices that are less likely to break.
Scientists have discovered a new ‘miracle material’ with improved chemical stability, lightness, and flexibility, which could be used to make smartphones and other devices that are less likely to break. Currently, most parts of a smartphone are made of silicon and other compounds, which are expensive and break easily, but with almost 1.5 billion smartphones purchased worldwide last year, manufacturers are on the lookout for something more durable and less costly, researchers said. Researchers, including those from Queen’s University Belfast in the UK, found that by combining semiconducting molecules C60 with layered materials, such as graphene and hBN, they could produce a unique material technology, which could revolutionize the concept of smart devices.

The winning combination works because hBN provides stability, electronic compatibility, and isolation charge to graphene while C60 can transform sunlight into electricity. Any smart device made from this combination would benefit from the mix of unique features, which do not exist in materials naturally. This process, which is called van der Waals solids, allows compounds to be brought together and assembled in a pre-defined way. “Our findings show that this new ‘miracle material’ has similar physical properties to Silicon but it has improved chemical stability, lightness, and flexibility, which could potentially be used in smart devices and would be much less likely to break,” said Elton Santos from Queen’s University.

“The material also could mean that devices use less energy than before because of the device architecture so could have improved battery life and less electric shocks,” said Santos. One issue that still needs to be solved is that graphene and the new material architecture is lacking a ‘band gap’, which is the key to the on-off switching operations performed by electronic devices, researchers said. However, the team is already looking at a potential solution – transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs). These are a hot topic at the moment as they are very chemically stable, have large sources for production and band gaps that rival Silicon. ( Source: Financial Express)

Confused netizens uninstall Snapdeal app instead of Snapchat

Confused netizens uninstall Snapdeal app instead of SnapchatSome of the people eager to distance themselves from Snapchatamid the "app for rich people" controversy ended up deleting the app for the e-commerce platform Snapdeal instead.

This came to light after netizens started posting pictures of the blunder on Twitter. As more people deleted their app, Snapdeal co-founder and CEO Kunal Bahl tweeted, "Ppl asking us to make a statement that @snapdeal is not @snapchat was possibly the last thing I thought I would ever need to do."

Many users also explained how the two apps were different. The social media went abuzz with criticism against Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel after a report quoted one of the company's former employees as saying that the top executive told him that the "app is only for rich people" and that he (CEO) was not interested in expanding the business to "poor countries" like India and Spain.

Snapchat, on its part, has rubbished the allegations. (Source: Times of India)

E-Governance: Oracle

E-Governance: OracleGovernments all over the world are working on empowering their citizens by using technology to provide them with more efficient and more transparent services. One of the key challenges in this process is to move the legacy IT deployments from information-storing silos to information sharing environments. This can become possible if the deployment architecture is flexible enough to gather and deliver information across devices and applications. This deployment also has to be scalable easily as governments move toward the smart city model.

Most government departments have automation enabled in varying degrees, including “single-window services”. Implementing technology deployed over cloud computing platforms is a natural process for governments that aspire to be globally competitive and provide better facilities to businesses and citizens. In order to reap these benefits, it is important that technological innovations be implemented in a phased manner. Here are four case studies that will help you understand how governments across the world are banking on technology to modernize themselves.

Center for Railway Information Systems Delivers High-Performance e-Ticketing System to Support 200,000 Concurrent Users and Double Daily Peak-Hour Sales
UAE Ministry of Human Resources Boosts Service Delivery with Oracle
City of Chicago Automates Recruitment Process to Rapidly Identify and Hire Top Candidates 75% Faster
City of Nuremberg Optimizes Operation, Maintenance, and Security of Heterogeneous IT Landscape with Operating System Upgrade (Source: Convergence Plus)

Apple confirms it is working on self-driving cars

Apple confirms it is working on self-driving carsFirm reveals secret project in statement to US highways regulator, two years after rumours of its interest began to circulate
Apple has said for the first time that it is working on technology to develop self-driving cars.
The company, which has been rumoured to be interested in the automated car market for the past two years, confirmed its previously secret initiative in a statement to the US highways regulator. “The company is investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation,” said the letter from Steve Kenner, Apple’s director of product integrity, to the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The letter offered no details of the project, instead highlighting the “significant societal benefits of automated vehicles”, which it described as a life-saving technology, potentially preventing millions of car crashes and thousands of fatalities each year.
Although fully automated cars are not expected to be in use in the UK for several years, trials have taken place in Britain and the US.
The British government is keen to ensure that the country is at the forefront of a fast developing market that could be worth £900bn by 2025, according to a KPMG study.

Earlier this year, ministers launched a consultation on changes to motor insurance rules and the highway code aimed at allowing self-driving cars to be on the roads by 2020. The business secretary, Greg Clark, said at the time: “The global market for autonomous vehicles presents huge opportunities for our automotive and technology firms. The research that underpins the technology and software will have applications way beyond autonomous vehicles.”

Rumours of Apple’s interest in the car market surfaced early last year. Known as Project Titan, the internal initiative was reportedly staffed by more than 1,000 engineers and other personnel working at top secret labs in Sunnyvale, California, some of whom were pulled from important consumer product teams. The letter from Kenner was dated 22 November, but has only just emerged. It leaves open the possibility that Apple will go on to design and produce a car of its own, rather than merely provide technology to an existing manufacturer. Earlier this year, the company was rumoured to be in talks to take over the British car manufacturer McLaren.

“To maximise the safety benefits of automated vehicles, encourage innovation and promote fair competition, established manufacturers and new entrants should be treated equally,” Apple wrote. Kenner argued that manufacturers should pool their data as they develop automated systems, to help everyone identify unusual situations or “edge cases” that cars may encounter on the roads.

“Companies should share de-identified scenario and dynamics data from crashes and near misses,” Kenner wrote. “By sharing data, the industry will build a more comprehensive data set than any one company could create alone.” But the letter added: “Data sharing should not come at the cost of privacy.” Apple urged the regulator to continue “thoughtful exploration of the ethical issues” of self-driving cars. “Because automated vehicles promise such a broad and deep human impact, companies should consider the ethical dimensions of them in comparably broad and deep terms,” it said.

The letter said these considerations include privacy, how the cars’ software systems make decisions and the impact on employment and public spaces. Kenner ended the letter by saying: “Apple looks forward to collaborating with NHTSA and other stakeholders so that the significant societal benefits of automated vehicles can be realised safely, responsibly and expeditiously.” Several large technology companies and traditional car manufacturers are working on automated vehicle technology. Uber has raced ahead of its competitors, deploying Ford Fusions in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which do not require hands on the wheel, as part of the company’s regular taxi service.

It is also developing a driverless car in partnership with Swedish carmaker Volvo. Electric car company Tesla is also involved, although it raised concerns earlier this year about the implications of driverless vehicles after one of its cars using autopilot mode was involved in a fatal crash. In September, a Google self-driving car collided with another vehicle after the latter ran through a red light. (Source: The Guardian)

Zoho takes on Zendesk, Freshdesk with platform built in a village

ZOHODesigned by over 150 engineers, Zoho Desk, a customer software platform, has been built in over five years Zoho Corp, the Chennai-based software maker, has built products that have taken on Salesforce, Google and Microsoft. Now, it has Zoho Desk, a customer software platform built in rural India that will take on two large rivals, local product FreshDesk and global major Zendesk.

Over 150 engineers at Tenkasi, 650 km south of Chennai in Tirunelveli district, known for its proximity to the Courtallam waterfalls, have designed and built Zoho Desk over five years and will also expand Zoho's made-in-India software offerings for global customers."Zoho has challenged conventional wisdom so many times in its history," says Sridhar Vembu, chief executive officer of Zoho Corp. "In an industry where companies have come to believe that the only location that matters is a few square miles near downtown San Francisco, we are proving that a determined and sincere group of people can build path-breaking products anywhere,” he adds.

Tirunelveli has over 25 engineering colleges and hosts US firms Syntel, a technology services provider, and TechFetch, a technology-focused job-generating platform founded by US-based Prabhakaran Murugaiah who has roots in the region. Zoho Desk, the sixth product the company launched in 2016, uses contextual information such as customer history, activities and prior issues to help service agents provide a speedy resolution.

According to Forrester, 42% of service agents are unable to resolve customer issues due to disconnected systems and multiple applications that hold relevant customer data. In almost 50 per cent of instances, customers report service agents fail to answer relevant questions. Lack of sufficient context of the customer’s problem is often the reason. "We built the first software products from India when IT services were the rage and established them in the global market. We are now showcasing something that has never been done before: the first software product created in rural India, world-class in its refinement, competing with the best," says Vembu.

Zoho, which continues to be bootstrapped because of Vembu's aversion to venture funding, has helped make Chennai India's hub for software-as-a-service companies, whose business model is to let customers pay a small fee for the software they use as opposed to conventional models of selling expensive licences to clients. “We believe rural talent should not have to leave home to find opportunity. Our broken urbanisation model creates severely overcrowded and polluted megacities and denudes rural areas of talent. That is why what Zoho Tenkasi is doing matters,” he adds. The company has around 4,500 employees and more than 20 million users across the world.

Rajendran Dandapani, director of engineering, Zoho, says the challenges the company had to face in building a team in Tenkasi included Internet provisioning and talent acquisition. These it addressed through hard work and by keeping expectations low, he adds. "We recruited from local colleges, word of mouth was a big source. Many employees in our Chennai office were from down south and this was a good opportunity for them to stay close to their families," he says. "We did not realise so many would want to go back to their hometowns. We might eventually look at a 50-50 split of our employee strength between Chennai and Tenkasi," Dandapani says.(Source:Business Standard)

Connected Cars’16 – Defining the future of automobile industry

Connected Cars’16 – Defining the future of automobile industry Millions of people die and get fatally injured in road accidents, one of the major reasons being human error. Today automakers are developing a variety of new technologies that will make cars far more digitally connected, transforming not just how people drive, but how they buy and maintain cars, and how automakers sell them.

Defining the future of automobile, Connected Cars’16, co-located with 5G World 2016 was organized on 29 and 30 June 2016, at London’s Olympia venue. The expo witnessed participation from some of the leading names from the industry such as; NCC Group, Nokia Networks, Nuance, Cisco Jasper, Synopsys, and Mitel.

The exhibition showcased advance technology in the connected cars sector both from the traditional car-making or engineering side, and the computing side.

The 2016 edition of the exhibition and conference bought together key OEM decision-makers and solution providers to identify new business strategies on how to maximise connected car revenues. Multiple case studies, focused workshops and discussion groups were held at the expo identifying new business strategies in the global vehicle market. (Source: convergence plus Bureau)

'OK Google' voice search removed from Chrome desktop

'OK Google' voice search removed from Chrome desktopGoogle has stripped its Chrome browser of the hands-free "OK Google" voice command.
As noted by VentureBeat, Google got rid of the feature on the desktop because not many people were using it. The change does not affect Chrome on mobile or Chromebooks.The "OK Google" voice command arrived in November 2013 via a Chrome extension. When installed, it allowed those on the desktop to speak their commands to their laptop's browser using the "OK Google" hotword. At the time, Google said it would be useful for quick answers when you had your hands full (like when you're cooking).

But turns out, it's more popular to speak to our mobile devices than our PCs. In the past two years, voice-activated mobile assistants, from Siri to Google Now to Cortana, have become more powerful and useful. So it's more convenient to talk to your phone than to have your laptop on and open to on Chrome, awaiting your command. The removal of "OK Google" comes with the launch of Chrome 46, which also says farewell to the Chrome notification center. If you've had your browser open for a few days, you might still be able to use "OK Google" on Chrome. It was active on my PC a few minutes ago, but disappeared once I updated to Chrome 46 (Help and about > About Google Chrome) and re-launched the browser. (Source: Times of India)

Ravi Shankar Prasad launches mobile app to aid digital literacy in Bihar

Ravi Shankar Prasad launches mobile app to aid digital literacy in Bihar Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has launched a mobile app in Bihar to aid digital literacy in the state.The app, Disha, is expected to help people learn about computers and Internet through selflearning modules. It is free and available on Google Play Store. In order to offer digital literacy to tribal and Dalit women in Bihar, the minister awarded tablet computers to women who received training from common service centres in the state.The move is seen as part of a string of initiatives being announced by the government as the assembly elections in Bihar draw near.

Prasad stressed on the need for intensified efforts to bridge the void in infrastructure and developmental between Bihar and other states. The central government would enhance direct interventional programmes "to bring rural Bihar closer to urban habitation and make the tribal population realise the benefits of development of which they have been deprived for long", he said.

Under the initiatives to improve digital connectivity in Bihar, BSNL will install 1,000 new base stations in the state and 184 of these will be located in Naxal-affected areas. All 8,354 gram panchayats of Bihar will be connected under Bharat Net in next three years. (Source: Economic Times)

Rahul Commerce
Convergence Summit
Sign up for Newsletter

KBITS Start-ups for GITEX Tech Week 2017
Gadget Reviews


Satya Kalyan Yerramsetti
Satya Kalyan Yerramsetti
Founder & CEO
SMS Country Networks

Convergence India 2017

Internet of things  India expo 2017

convergence plus