10 Top Things in Tech This Week 1

As the week draws to an end, let’s recap the top 10 things that happened in the tech sector during the week.

1) World’s First Blockchain Phone Which Have India Connection To Start Shipping in November

With Blockchain and Bitcoin fast becoming the latest fad all around the world, it was only logical that someone invented a blockchain smartphone sooner or later.

Enter BitVault, the world’s first crypto communicator and blockchain smartphone. The BitVault is a revolutionary new product that is built around security and privacy enabled through blockchain technology.

BitVault is owned and developed by Embedded Downloads, which is considered somewhat of a pro in secure hardware and software relating to the Internet of Things. The firm, which has development offices in Limerick, Ireland and New Delhi, India, has commissioned Gurgaon-headquartered VVDN Technologies as the development and manufacturing partner for the blockchain smartphone.

Showcased earlier this year at London Fintech week, Embedded Downloads will start shipping the phone in November this year.

2) India’s First Multi-Faceted AI and Robotics Centre To Come Up in Bengaluru

The city of Bengaluru will soon become home to India’s first multi-faceted artificial intelligence and robotics centre, according to a report in the Deccan Herald. To be established within Bengaluru’s Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) campus, the centre will be working on exploring the potential of data analytics, which is one of the various emerging technology’s popular nowadays, for various ecosystems.

3) Google To Take On PayTM; Launches ‘Tez’ Mobile Payment App in India

The week saw Google finally unveiling Tez, its free mobile wallet for India. Whether it is sending money home to your family or splitting money among friends for a dinner party, Tez will let you do it all in a jiffy. Using the app, users can pay for goods securely in physical stores and online. The app links users phone directly to their bank accounts. What makes Tez standout from its competitors is its Audio QR feature, which lets users use ultrasonic sounds to exchange money, bypassing any need for NFC.

4) Hewlett Packard , PwC To Jointly Create Smart City Center In Kolkata, India

It’s time we made our cities ready for the future. While we have made our daily lives technologically equipped, with a tech or an app ready to make our lives easier and more smoother, but in the process we have largely looked over the places that we stay in, our cities. Seeing the potential that smart city technologies holds in India, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and PwC have decided to join their hands on a new project that will work towards creating a center of excellence (CoE) in the city of Kolkata.

The CoE will work towards using the vast possibilities that Internet of Things (IoT) technologies has to offer and optimise things for the city administrators so that they can offer their best services to the citizens of their cities.

5) Rise of AI – 1,000 Indian Firms Including Startups Sign Up For IBM’s Watson Platform

American multinational technology company IBM has revealed that more than 1,000 Indian firms are currently making use of its popular Watson Internet of Things platform, according to a report in the Economic Times. IBM considers some of India’s most popular companies like Tata Steel, Reliance Group, Tech Mahindra, Maruti-Suzuki, Mahindra & Mahindra, KPIT, Arrow Electronics, Kone, Acculi Labs, Avanijal Agri Automation and Schneider Electric India among its customers and partners.

IBM’s new Watson Internet of Things (IoT) is a cognitive system that learns from, and infuses intelligence into the physical world. It is a data analytics and cognitive artificial-intelligence (AI) platform that draws insights from enormous amount of data collected through sensors placed on machines and devices.

In addition to the Indian companies and startups, IBM is also working with several Indian states and government bodies on asset optimisation, water management and precision agriculture projects.

6) Intel Has Invested Over $1B in AI Startups

California-based Intel is considered a tech major for a reason. Intel’s innovation in cloud computing, data center, Internet of Things, and PC solutions have and are still powering the smart and connected digital world that we live in today. The best thing about the company is, that it doesn’t stop. After ruling the semiconductor chip market, the tech company is now vying to become the “the AI platform of choice.”

In order to realise its Artificial Intelligence (AI) mission, the American multinational corporation and technology company has already invested billions of dollars in developing machines that could be one day capable of carrying out tasks normally earmarked for humans.

Confirming the company’s enthusiasm about the emerging technology, Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich in an op-ed published earlier this week revealed that Intel Capital, which is Intel’s capital investment fund, has already put in over $1 billion in startups that are working towards advancing the course of AI. This includes Data Robot, Lumiata and Mighty AI.

7) Nasscom Launches IoT Skill Course for Techies in India

Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most popular technologies that we have today. Though a lot of us are employing the technology in our daily lives one way or another, our schools and colleges have still not fully embraced the technology in their curriculum as a result of which, we today have a country whose pool is largely unskilled to take the technology forward from what it is today now. In order to do something about the issue, The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) has decided to kick off a ‘Foundation Skills in IoT’ course which will work towards charting the future path for the sustained growth of the domain by creating skilled IT professionals.

One of the primary goals that the ‘Foundation Skills in IoT’ courseware aims to achieve is to provide the Indian youth with the basic understanding of IoT which can not only help them in engineering education but also widen their employment horizon. The course would encompass introduction to IoT and its architecture, industry applications and use cases in various sectors like aerospace, agriculture, automotive, construction, energy, healthcare, logistics, manufacturing, retail and transportation. It also includes a mandatory project work at the end of the course so as to provide the students a practical exposure of what all they had been studying.

8) Meet Mitra – An AI Robot Designed By Bengaluru Startup and Built In China

In what could be considered as a perfect example of the greatness that can be achieved if both India and China come together and join hands more often, Bengaluru-based robotics start-up Invento Robotics has collaborated with manufacturing hubs in China to give birth to an intelligent robot called Mitra.

A 4.5 feet tall humanoid, Mitra has been designed by Invento to interact with humans through natural ways – voice and vision. It recognizes speech and then converts that into actionable information, which is then run through the startup’s algorithms to both respond to that query through past learning. This is then conveyed through speech output.

No, we’re not just talking about an idea in thin air. Mitra’s first prototype is actually currently functioning at Canara Bank’s headquarters in Bengaluru. Though at 30 kg, the robot is quite bulky, the robot is working quite efficiently as a receptionist at the bank and giving tours of the bank’s “experience zone” to customers.

9) This Is The Biggest Controversy That WWW Consortium Has Ever Had

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) just had its most controversial meeting ever. The non-profit that listens to debates and then sets standards to make all the web’s browsers and websites compatible just voted on a new proposed standard called Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) that is potentially going to change how the web works.

EME entails to standardise the way copyrighted videos are delivered within a web browser. This means, web users all around the world will no longer have to download the Adobe Flash add-ons or Microsoft Silverlight whenever they intend to watch a copyright protected video. Though the transitioning process began five years ago, but with the final vote in, this change is now official.

Of the 463 members that the consortium has, 108 voted yes, 57 objected, 20 abstained, and the rest didn’t participate in the vote. The members include stakeholders from academia to nonprofits to major tech biggies. While on the face of it, 185 votes out of 463 members might seem to be tragically low, but it in fact was the most highest voter turnout the consortium has ever seen.

10) India To Launch Its Own Bitcoin-Like Cryptocurrency Called ‘Lakshmi’

In an interesting turn of events, India’s central bank Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which till a few weeks ago showed its discomfort with Bitcoin while agreeing that it may make cryptocurrencies in the country as legal tender, is now reportedly considering launching its own cryptocurrency called Lakshmi, named after the Hindu goddess of wealth.

A group of experts at RBI are currently examining the possibility of a cryptocurrency which would become an alternative to the Indian rupee for digital transactions, and unlike bitcoin which is a non-fiat digital currency, the new one will be fiat-cryptocurrency. Fiat currency means a currency that is forced into circulation by a government.

Lakshmi could be a part of RBI’s effort of creating its own Blockchain, a distributed digital ledger and technology that supports cryptocurrencies.

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