Posts tagged ‘Android operating system’

02/12/2016

Indian Startup Plans to Land on the Moon in January 2018 – India Real Time – WSJ

An Indian aerospace startup has said that it will launch its mission to the moon in a year’s time, as it takes part in a Google-funded competition to become the world’s first-ever privately held company to make a soft landing there.

Team Indus‘s rover, nicknamed ‘Ek Choti Si Asha,’ or ‘one small hope’ in Hindi, won the Axiom Research team a million-dollar prize from Google last year.

A group of more than 100 scientists and engineers, including around a dozen former ISRO scientists, make up Axiom Research Labs’ Team Indus. The team is India’s only entry in the Google-funded Lunar XPrize challenge, which has a bounty of $30 million.

To win the prize, a team has to successfully place a spacecraft on the moon’s surface, travel at least 500 meters and transmit high-definition video and images back to Earth.

“A full launch vehicle from ISRO [Indian Space Research Organization] will launch our spacecraft into the orbit of the moon end of 2017,” Rahul Narayan, the fleet commander of the team, said at a news conference in New Delhi on Thursday.

The supermoon rising above Cape Town on November 14, 2016, when it was closest to the earth in 68 years.

The Team Indus spacecraft is expected to make it to the moon’s Mare Imbrium region by January 2018.

The race is on. Sixteen other teams from across the world want to make the 238,900-mile trip, and Team Indus is the fourth team to announce its launch plans, said Mr. Narayan.

“We are considering the team from Israel great competition at this point,” he said.

The Indian team’s plan is the country’s first shot at becoming the fourth nation to land gently on the lunar surface and unfurl its national flag, after the U.S., Russia and China.

The South Asian nation’s inexpensive Mars mission put its satellite Mangalyan, which now appears on India’s new 2,000-rupee bank notes, into the red planet’s orbit for $74 million in September 2014. The U.S. spent $671 million getting its Maven satellite to Mars orbit.

The team said its mission would cost $60 million.

Team Indus’s core leadership team, including fleet commander Rahul Narayan, fourth from left.

“We’ve already raised about $15 million through private equity,” said Julius Amrit, co-founder and director. The company aims to raise $20 million by charging companies or universities to put their instruments on board to collect data. It also expects to raise another $20 million from sponsorship, donations and grants.

Its top investors include Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata group, one of India’s biggest conglomerates; Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Indian outsourcing firm Infosys; and the owners of e-commerce website Flipkart Internet Pvt. Ltd.

“We are quite confident at this moment that we will have enough money to send our spacecraft to the moon,” Mr. Amrit said.

The Bangalore-based startup won a million dollar prize from Google last year for its WALL-E lookalike moon rover, which will shoot high-quality images, video and data and beam them from the moon’s surface to the company’s mission center in India.

 

But the mission isn’t without its challenges.“If you have to softly land, you need to be able to [precisely] manage your velocity and time [to switch your engines on and off],” said Dhruv Batra, Program Lead at Team Indus. “Unfortunately, there is no throttle-like mechanism in a spacecraft, like you have in a car.”

Another challenge is to be able to land at the right time of the day—to make sure the solar panels are able to power the gadgetry, while making sure the temperature isn’t too extreme for the batteries and other electronics to work properly.

“We are currently refining each and every output of our simulations to arrive at that level of precision we need,” said Mr. Batra.Seven years ago, Team Indus was one of the last teams to sign up for the Google challenge, and its founders had no prior experience in aerospace engineering or space sciences, said Mr. Narayan, the fleet commander. “It was just a dream.”

Source: Indian Startup Plans to Land on the Moon in January 2018 – India Real Time – WSJ

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03/10/2016

How Google’s Bicycle-Riding Internet Tutors Are Getting Rural Indian Women Online – India Real Time – WSJ

The internet fails to reach millions of women in the small towns and villages of India, so Google is trying to deliver it to them — by bicycle.

The Alphabet Inc. unit has built an army of thousands of female trainers and sent them to the far corners of the Subcontinent on two-wheelers, hoping to give rural woman their first taste of the web. Each bike has a box full of connected smartphones and tablets for women to try and train on.

The idea is to give people who have never even sent an email a better understanding of how being connected could improve their lives. Families that can afford to be online often chose not to be because they do not see the value. Meanwhile women are sometimes blocked by their families from new technology.

ENLARGEA web trainer who is taking part in Internet Saathi, the joint program of Alphabet, Inc.‘s Google and local philanthropy Tata Trusts, in the village of Habibwala, in Rajastan, India, Sept. 28, 2016. PHOTO: GOOGLE

Bhagwati Kumari Mahawar got her very first taste of the internet just a month ago.

The 19-year-old used a smartphone Google brought to her remote village in the desert state of Rajasthan to search for designs of mehndi, the elaborate henna designs Indian women get on their hands and feet. Then she looked up information on how to sew a blouse.

ENLARGEBhagwati Kumari Mahawar in the village of Habibwala, in Rajastan, India, Sept. 28, 2016. PHOTO: GOOGLE

“I really wanted to learn,” she said, sitting in the shade near the Google bicycle and a water buffalo.In the project, called Internet Saathi, Google partnered with local philanthropy Tata Trusts to show women in rural India how to connect to the web.

Instructors are trained in how the web works, and then are given bicycles with large boxes on the back containing internet-enabled devices running Google’s Android mobile operating system. The newly equipped “saathis” — or “partners” in Hindi — then cycle from village to village providing instruction to their peers.

“I wasn’t sure if I could do it or not,” said the instructor who helped Ms. Mahwar get online, 30-year-old Kamla Devi Mahawar, who is unrelated to her pupil.

She never used the web until she began her Saathi training ten months earlier, but since then has enjoyed showing women how to search for information like recipes and stitching guides, and showing them how to use voice queries if they are unable to type in text.

ENLARGEWomen look at cell phones as part of Internet Saathi, the joint program of Alphabet, Inc.’s Google and local philanthropy Tata Trusts, in the village of Habibwala, in Rajastan, India, Sept. 28, 2016. PHOTO: NEWLEY PURNELL/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

In a demonstration, she sat on the ground while half a dozen women circled around her, watching as she searched for images of nearby temples and forts. Some women want to learn how to use Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp messaging service, while others simply want to make phone calls, she said.

Since the program’s launch last year, about 9,000 guides have helped reached 1 million women, Google said, noting that the program fits its mission of helping expand internet access globally.

India is an increasingly important commercial market for the Mountain View, Calif. search titan given its nascent internet economy.

While the country is home to more than 1.2 billion people, consultancy McKinsey & Co. reckons some one billion people still lack regular web access. More online consumers in the years ahead could mean more users of Google’s services, like its search engine, email and Android.

A bike used by an instructor who teaches women how to use the web, part of Internet Saathi, the joint program of Alphabet, Inc.’s Google and local philanthropy Tata Trusts, in the village of Habibwala, in Rajastan, India, Sept. 28, 2016. PHOTO: GOOGLE

Last week, at an event in New Delhi, Google executives said they are expanding their efforts to reach Indians with products and features like a new version of its YouTube app designed to work even on India’s often sluggish mobile networks.

Asked how her work with others could be made easier, Ms. Mahwar, the trainer, was quick to point out that better web connectivity is key.

“The internet doesn’t work half the time,” she said. Fixing that “would help a lot.”

Source: How Google’s Bicycle-Riding Internet Tutors Are Getting Rural Indian Women Online – India Real Time – WSJ

18/06/2016

New App Promises to Tell Indian Farmers When to Sow Crops – India Real Time – WSJ

Monsoon season in India has just begun, but farmers in Andhra Pradesh, a southeastern coastal state of India, won’t need to look to the skies to know when to sow their crops.

A new mobile application launched earlier this month and developed by a local agriculture research institute, Microsoft India and the state government tells farmers in the state which week is perfect for sowing seeds, the health of their soil and other indicators.

The app uses rainfall data collected from farms in 13 districts in Andhra Pradesh over 45 years to give farmers a sense of when to start planting, Suhas P. Wani, director of Asia research at the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics or ICRISAT, a research organization in Hyderabad said.Farmers are asked to register a mobile number with the state government, choose a language–currently limited to the regional Telugu and English–and enter details of the village, district or sub-district.

The advice received could vary from farmer to farmer and from village to village, Mr. Wani said. “The app has crop-specific information such as 10 years of groundnut sowing progress data” to guide farmers who grow specific crops, he added.

He said that constant data on crop yield was being collected on a monthly basis by field officers and sent for evaluation to provide regular forecasts to farmers.

A weather button shows the temperature and rainfall as well as fertilizer recommendations for the day and projection for the next seven days. Additionally, a farmer can get weather alerts for extreme conditions like hailstorms or unseasonal rains that impact crop yields.

Andhra Pradesh logged the highest number of farmer suicides in the country last year. At least 58 farmers took their own lives in the state, according to an agriculture ministry report.

But not every farmer can afford to invest in expensive smartphone technology.

So far, most of the farmers have requested to be sent the information via SMS message. Mr. Wani said once registered, farmers can get the predicted sowing date through SMS. “The main idea behind the application is to help farmers reduce losses by telling when to sow seeds or spray the plants,” he said.

The application will be rolled out in other Indian states next year, based on feedback from farmers in the state, he added.

Source: New App Promises to Tell Indian Farmers When to Sow Crops – India Real Time – WSJ

15/06/2016

India Police Probe Trade in Human Organs – India Real Time – WSJ

Police in India’s capital Delhi have uncovered a complex network illegally trading in kidneys. Suryatapa Bhattacharya report.

Earlier this month, a woman marched into a police station in India’s capital to file a domestic-abuse complaint and then made another allegation: that her husband was involved in illegal organ-trafficking.

Police said that accusation sparked a probe that had yielded 12 arrests as of Tuesday after authorities said they uncovered a complex nationwide network that was illegally trading in kidneys.

Donors, mostly poor residents of rural areas, were paid about $6,000 to give their kidneys to wealthier people in need of transplants, police said. The recipients paid more than $37,000. Traffickers produced counterfeit documents to make it appear as though the donors and recipients were related, police said. A 1994 law outlawed organ sales but permitted donations between family members.

The suspects—including five middlemen and four people who allegedly sold their own kidneys—were held on suspicion of trafficking in human organs and forgery, police said. They were in custody and couldn’t be reached for comment. It was unclear if they had legal representation.

Most countries prohibit organ selling, in part because of fears the poor and sick will be exploited by unscrupulous brokers.

Source: India Police Probe Trade in Human Organs – India Real Time – WSJ

26/04/2016

China Bans Some New Coal Power Plants – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China Bans Some New Coal Power Plants A coal-fired power plant in Shanxi, China. Beijing has announced a ban on new coal plants in areas with surplus power supply.

Beijing has announced a ban on new coal plants in areas with surplus power supply.

China’s government is banning construction of new coal-fired power plants in areas with surplus power supply, a move that could weigh on already-struggling coal markets. As WSJ’s Brian Spegele reports:

The new measures outlined Monday by China’s top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, underscore the central government’s deep concern with overcapacity across China’s economy, a result of weakening industrial demand as growth slows.

Beijing has previously said it aimed to curb thermal power overcapacity; analysts said the fact that it now came from an official NDRC communiqué was the clearest signal yet that it won’t tolerate new coal capacity in regions that already have excess supply.

Weaker demand for coal inside China could ultimately lead to higher exports, which would exacerbate the huge supplies of coal sloshing around global markets. The higher supplies could drive down global benchmark prices and hit the bottom lines of major U.S. and international coal producers.

The global commodities downturn has proven particularly tough on global coal companies. St. Louis-based Peabody Energy Corp. and Arch Coal Inc. are among the large U.S. miners to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protections in recent months. The U.S. sector has shed 31,000 jobs since 2009.

Source: China Bans Some New Coal Power Plants – China Real Time Report – WSJ

18/03/2016

How Modi’s Social Media Skills Earned Him a Spot on Time’s Internet Influencers List – India Real Time – WSJ

Since Narendra Modi took office nearly two years ago, his social media might has helped cultivate his international profile as an Indian prime minister who receives rockstar welcomes at concert venues and sports arenas overseas, shares smiling selfies with other heads of state and boasts among the biggest banks of Twitter followers of world political leaders.

This week, he burnished that image by winning a spot for a second consecutive year on Time magazine’s list of the 30 most influential people on the Internet.

The roundup of online luminaries describes Mr. Modi as an “Internet star,” noting that the prime minister, unlike other world leaders, uses social media to break news and conduct diplomacy. With 18.7 million followers, Mr. Modi ranks second only to President Barack Obama among political leaders.

The magazine’s picks of Internet A-listers also includes U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump, who has nearly 7 million Twitter followers, artist Kanye West and the author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling.

Mr. Modi used Twitter to announce Mr. Obama’s visit to India last year as the guest of honor at India’s Republic Day parade, and signaled a breakthrough in tense relations with neighboring Pakistan by tweeting that India’s foreign secretary would travel to that country. He tweets in several languages, shouting out to other world leaders on their birthdays and congratulating them on election victories.

The digital-savvy leader and his Bharatiya Janata Party’s social media team runs a full-time, data-driven operation. It coins hashtags and uses what one member called “online volunteers”–a digital army to retweet and comment on posts relating to the prime minister and his policies–to keep him trending.

They also use specialized software to study social media behavior and track the ebbs and flows of online sentiment to Mr. Modi’s speeches and actions, funneling their analysis to help craft his message–and to tweak it when traffic turns unfavorable.

Mr. Modi appears to have become a regular on Time’s rankings. Last year, he was on its “100 Most Influential People” list where Mr. Obama called him India’s “reformer-in-chief.”

Source: How Modi’s Social Media Skills Earned Him a Spot on Time’s Internet Influencers List – India Real Time – WSJ

18/02/2016

Is India’s Freedom 251, a $4 Smartphone, Too Good to Be True? – India Real Time – WSJ

A little-known Indian company has announced grand plans to sell millions of made-in-India smartphones for less than $4 a piece, despite the fact that it has only been in the smartphone business for five months and has yet to build a factory.

Ringing Bells Pvt. started taking orders for its Freedom 251 phone on Thursday for 251 rupees ($3.67) each, or less than the price of a McDonald’s Big Mac in the U.S. The company has promised to deliver the phones by June 30–after it builds two manufacturing plants.

Social media lit up with discussion about the device–which the company says will have a four-inch display, 3.2-megapixel camera and 8 gigabytes of storage–after ads for the phone with the tagline “dreams will come true,” appeared in newspapers. Ringing Bells said its phones will have apps that help farmers check soil conditions and fishermen get weather reports.

The company’s website crashed Thursday and it stopped accepting orders for the device as it worked to upgrade its servers, the website said.

At a launch event in a public park Wednesday, thousands turned out to see company President Ashok Chadha unveil a poster-sized image of a phone under a shower of pyrotechnics and confetti. It was an impressive turnout considering only days earlier almost no one had even heard of him, his company or its phone.

Phones given to journalists to try looked as if the branding from another manufacturer had been covered up with white-out on the phone’s front. Indian flag stickers covered the rear. The phones used an Android operating system.

Mr. Chadha said the phone he was sharing was a “beta device.”

Ringing Bells said it would spend 5 billion rupees, or about $73 million, to build the factories. Mr. Chadha said the money will come from the family of Mohit Goel, one of the founders and directors of the company. Mr. Goel’s family owns a farming business, Mr. Chadha said. Attempts to reach Mr. Goel were unsuccessful.

Analysts said they couldn’t see how Ringing Bells could ever make money selling phones for $4.

If Ringing Bells follows through with its plans, the difficulties of setting up manufacturing operations in India could mean it runs into delays that could cause it to miss its June deadline, a spokeswoman for another Indian phone manufacturer said. She said setting up a new factory often takes up to a year.

The company aims produce hundreds of thousands of phones a month and take around 30% of the smartphone market within a year, Mr. Chadha said. Over 100 million smartphones were shipped by manufacturers to retailers in India last year, according to International Data Corp., a research company.

Despite the low price, Mr. Chadha said the company expects to make money on the phones. He said that making the phone using components imported from China would cost about 2,500 rupees per phone. India doesn’t make many components used in phones and other phone sellers in the country import their phones and components from elsewhere.

But Mr. Chadha said he expected to reduce costs through through “economies of scale,” tax breaks for local manufacturing, and other cost-cutting measures. “We are technocrats and have some understanding of international economics,” he said.

Ringing Bells says it will offer a smartphone with a 4-inch display, 3.2 megapixel camera and 8 gigabytes of memory for less than $4. The $33 smartphones powered by Mozilla Corp.’s Firefox operating system have a 3.5 inch display, 2 megapixel camera and 256 megabytes of storage.

Source: Is India’s Freedom 251, a $4 Smartphone, Too Good to Be True? – India Real Time – WSJ

22/01/2015

Now Is the Time to Start a Company in India says Pulse Founder – India Real Time – WSJ

Ankit Gupta, the co-founder of Pulse a news aggregating app that was purchased by LinkedIn, has spent the past two weeks traveling across India meeting startup founders and trying to find out what is behind the recent surge in acquisitions of Indian companies by U.S.-based firms.

His conclusion? Now is the time to start a company in India, but if that sounds too risky, here are a few other ways he suggests you can contribute to the startup ecosystem.

Work for an Indian startup. There is a huge demand for good talent, especially at senior levels. Salaries over $200,000 aren’t unheard of.

Invest in startups. Your college network can be very effective in finding them. Angel list and termsheet.io are good resources as well.

Use Indian products and send them feedback. Help Indian products get distribution in your country.

Signup for this newsletter Mr. Gupta started to stay informed about new products launching in India.

via Now Is the Time to Start a Company in India says Pulse Founder – India Real Time – WSJ.

19/01/2015

India’s New Pink Taxi Fleet for Women Offers Pepper Spray, Panic Buttons – India Real Time – WSJ

One of India’s largest taxi companies says it has a solution for women worried about their safety after the alleged rape by an Uber driver: pink cabs with pepper spray.

Meru Cab chief executive Siddhartha Pahwa announced the new service–called Meru Eve– Friday from a dais decorated with daisies and gladioli.

“The incident last month forced all of us to think how we can make roads safer for women,” he said.

Its new line of taxis in Delhi will be driven by women . They will have pepper spray and panic buttons that immediately notify Meru if there is trouble.

There have been taxi services for women for years-such as ForShe Taxis and Sakha Cabs–but Meru Eve promises to take the concept to the next level. The service started in the capital region Friday with around 20 vehicles and may be rolled out in other cities later.

Meru worked with the Delhi police to equip the cabs and give the women drivers self-defense training to protect themselves and their passengers.

Meru’s Mr. Pahwa said that after the alleged rape of a female passenger by an Uber driver, Meru received calls from anxious passengers asking for female taxi drivers.

“This is an important step towards women’s empowerment,” said Tajender Singh Luthra, a joint commissioner of police in Delhi.

Meru’s regular drivers have always been given specific training on the appropriate ways to interact with women passengers. It says it has never had a complaint but decided to go further to make women passengers feel more safe.

“These drivers come from small towns and are not used to big city culture, like women smoking, wearing a short dress or travelling alone at night,” Mr. Pahwa said. “We train our drivers to avoid eye contact with women, maintain two feet of distance and not to adjust the rear view mirror to watch the passenger.”

The Meru Eve drivers will wear pink vests and drive white-and-pink hatchbacks.

One of the new drivers, 22-year-old Sarita Dixit, said that she expects her income to jump with demand for women drivers as more companies start women taxi services. Meru drivers typically earn between 20,000 and 30,000 rupees ($322 to $483) a month, which is more than she earned in her last job working as a chauffeur.

The new services will not only help empower women that can afford taxis but also woman looking for work, said Vimla Mehra, Delhi’s special police commissioner for administration.

“You don’t see many women professionals in India. Programs like this build confidence in women to earn a living. They become role models,” she said.

via India’s New Pink Taxi Fleet for Women Offers Pepper Spray, Panic Buttons – India Real Time – WSJ.

05/09/2014

India’s $33 Smartphone Sales Surge, Setting the Stage for a Shakeup – India Real Time – WSJ

The maker of India’s $33 Mozilla Firefox smartphone says sales of the world’s cheapest smartphone have been strong since it launched last week.

Intex Technologies India Ltd. said it quickly sold out of its first batch of Cloud FX phones–which use Mozilla Corp.’s Firefox operating system—and that it has already had to order another large shipment. It expects to sell 100,000 handsets this month and a total of 500,000 by the end of the year, the company said.

Another super-cheap Firefox-powered smartphone hit the Indian market on Tuesday. India’s Spice Retail Ltd. started selling its Spice Fire One Mi FX1 for about $37. The company did not respond to requests for early sales figures.

The less-than-2,000-rupee price tags make the Firefox mobile operating system smartphones more than 30% cheaper than the least-expensive smartphones which use Google Inc.’s Android operating system.

Other phone sellers say they are also planning Firefox handsets. India’s Karbonn Mobiles says it plans to launch a $41 Firefox smartphone by the end of September. It will be less than half the price of Karbonn’s latest Android phone, making it a “game changer,” said Pardeep Jain, managing director of Jaina Mobiles India Pvt., which  controls the Karbonn brand.

Reviews for the ultralow-cost phones have so far been generally positive. While the phones may lack some functionality and speed, buyers and technology reporters agreed they were still a great deal for the price and a good option for first-time smartphone buyers who use their phones for basic calls, web surfing and social networking.

While Mozilla phones will make smartphones affordable to millions of new users, they will likely get more competition soon on price from Android, the operating system used on most phones from Samsung Electronics and others, analysts said.

Google is expected to launch its Android One low-cost smartphone in the next few weeks.

via India’s $33 Smartphone Sales Surge, Setting the Stage for a Shakeup – India Real Time – WSJ.

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