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How IoT is helping cos disrupt their existing spaces and proposed ventures

Kent RO Systems Ltd by now has almost become synonymous with water purification technology, thanks to the brand’s endorsement by popular actor of yesteryears, Hema Malini. But not many know that it is now getting into a space that can be least expected from a company of its kind -- leveraging technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud and artificial intelligence (AI). 

The Noida-based healthcare firm has now come up with an onboard vehicle security system called Kent CamEye which it demonstrated at the recently held IoT Innovation India Conclave in Bengaluru. Said to be a first-of-its-kind car security device for vehicles and passengers, Kent CamEye uses dual cameras to record everything happening inside and outside the car, and also allows live video streaming using either of the cameras, from anywhere in the world. “Now, we are ready to disrupt the IoT space,” said Saurabh Gupta, CIO at Kent RO Systems.

Kent is among several companies from different industries that are now leveraging the power of IoT either to disrupt their own space or even to get into completely new areas that can open up new business opportunities for them in the future. 

“I look at IoT as a fundamental disrupter. Nothing (now)  stops IoT from growing into every button and clothing that you wear which can actually be connected,” said Anirban Mukherjee, a partner at the consulting firm E&Y. “I consult all the industries in India, whether it is steel, manufacturing, automotive, oil and gas… and they are rampantly adopting IoT. The companies are (not just) selling their products but they are selling them along with services,” said Mukherjee.

IoT or Internet of Things is a technology where devices communicate with each other intelligently. An increased penetration of affordable devices, combined with cloud computing, analytics and rising consumer expectations are driving the rapid growth of the IoT market in India. Experts say, globally 20 billion devices will be connected to IoT by 2020 and these connections are expected to reach 50 billion by 2030. The Indian IoT market is expected to grow to $15 billion with 2.7 billion units by 2020 from the current $5.6 billion and 200 million connected units, according to a Nasscom-Deloitte joint report.

Kent CamEye’s next-gen dashcam cum car security system, ensures the safety of the passengers and the security of their vehicles. It also acts as a real-time global positioning system (GPS) vehicle tracker for the car, and playback the route travelled by vehicle on a map. According to Gupta of Kent RO Systems, Kent CamEye is designed and engineered in the country, keeping in mind the security needs of Indian consumers. “About 23 per cent of the people who travel in (cabs) feel unsafe. Rage and aggression is increasing on the road. The device sends out smart alerts in case of any (incident) to the mobile device. It also detects unknown drivers or passengers,” said Gupta. He says, all these alarms are generated on the ‘edge device’ which is able to analyse the information and send the triggers. Kent is using the innovation for applications such as safety of family members, fleet management, eliminating disputes and monitoring driver behaviour like drowsiness. Besides school buses and taxi operators and some of the prisons in Uttar Pradesh are also using it. 

Similarly, Tata Communications is now using IoT to help enterprises monitor the health of employees working in remote and hazardous environments. The company has created a solution called ‘Employee Health and Safety watch’ that monitors a worker’s body vital stats and work environment. This feature-rich device is capable of two-way alerts between employees and supervisors, enabling automated attendance, location tracking and geofencing. Strategically placed beacons in enterprise facility gather and seamlessly transmit data from the devices via a network to the device management platform to create actionable insights.

“Workers (operating) in remote areas are exposed to hazardous situations and one accident can cost them their life. The devices that we have launched can be worn by the workers like a wristwatch which measures their skin temperature, heart rate, immobility and fall...This would also help in any rescue operation,” said Lalit K Mishra, associate vice president, IoT sales and strategic initiatives at Tata Communications.

IoT is also being used to monitor infrastructure and assets. This October, Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions (RBEI) unveiled an IoT enabled public infrastructure monitoring solution which has been designed and developed in India. It combines Bosch’s strength in software, sensors and services to transform devices such as elevators and escalators into smarter machines. At the heart of the solution sits an intelligent platform called ‘Bosch Phantom’ that increases machine efficiency by providing insights on critical safety, machine maintenance and early warnings on malfunctions. The solution which can be set up in a few minutes also provides real-time alerts and notifications via e-mails and messages to the users. It can be retrofit into any existing power monitoring device, by installing a small, nondescript box which is equipped with several intelligent sensors. “We said that we need to be a product-centric company in the IoT space to make an impact...We started as a service (firm) and eventually turned to be a product company,” said Lokesh Payik, chief of digital enterprise at Bosch.

There are several startup companies who are using coming out with innovations in IoT space with an aim of solving unique problems in the country. Waitlessbuzz, a young firm, has developed a device that aims to cut down waiting time at places such as hospitals, supermarkets, salons and garages. For instance, this helps the patients to know the length of the queues at the hospital based on which they can take the token confirming their presence or cancel the appointment, using a phone. Besides, doctors can also get insights into the flow of patients and plan their schedule accordingly. “All tasks of issuing tokens, information on the doctor’s arrival and availability will be known to patients who may be sitting at their homes,” said Sudhindra Kinnal, co-founder of Waitlessbuzz.

Smart electric scooter company Ather Energy has customized its scooters to Indian conditions and riding sensibilities using IoT. The company’s scooters are equipped with a touchscreen interactive dashboard and an integrated app which allows first in its category features like onboard navigation, remote diagnostics and over-the-air (OTA) updates for future improvements. 

“We are moving from the Internet of Things to Intelligence of Things where the vehicle itself is knowing what to do for itself. One such example is self-diagnostics. Even before any (breakdown) happens, our sensors get to know about it and the customer is warned much before,” said Sirish Batchu, vice president, digital technology, Ather Energy. In the next step, the company says, the data it garners through the smart scooters plying on the road, it can collaborate with (civic bodies) to improve the roads. It can have such a huge transformational impact on society,” added Batchu.

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