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The internet of things (IoT) is emerging as India’s next trillion-dollar industry, enabling exponential innovation, mass disruption, and speedy digital transformation across the vast South Asian country.
As part of its commitment to a creative solutions future, this year the government supported a national “Smart India Hackathon.” The event brought students together with professional mentors to brainstorm innovative and disruptive tech solutions for some of the country’s major problems.
The Indian government is also encouraging innovation through its Digital India initiative, part of which includes establishing IoT-specific centres of excellence, IoT innovation hubs, and partnerships with major multinationals.
What more is going on? The following three brands in India are creatively using IoT to deliver potentially game-changing solutions.
Uberization Of The Ambulance
StanPlus, currently operating in Hyderabad, uses IoT to facilitate data portability and link patients with ambulance owners–vital in a country where the ambulance service is appalling. According to Stan Plus CEO Prabhdeep Singh, “75% of patients use their own vehicle to reach a hospital, while 30% who arrive by ambulance arrive dead.”
Creative use of IoT by StanPlus is disrupting the traditional ambulance service. This “Uber for ambulances” aims to build India’s largest private medical helpline and consolidate private ambulances to service the helpline. Its ultimate goal: to reduce the waiting time for an ambulance from the current average of 40 minutes to less than 15.
The system has been designed to match each patient with the ambulance most appropriately equipped for his needs and the closest hospital with the necessary facilities. StanPlus is also working to standardise the cost of ambulance transport and the level of care and equipment.
The Smart Way To Flatten Bread
Covering a more immediate need is Zimplistic with its already successful Rotimatic, which not only simplifies making roti (flat bread) for home bakers in Asia, but is set to expand into other types of flat breads favoured around the world.
Co-founder Pranoti Nagarkar Israni saw appeal in a product that would make everyday meals easier to prepare, and she had the experience in robotics to get started. She quit her job to focus on the development of Rotimatic, and her husband, Rishi, soon left McAfee, where he led the technology team, to join her. They had to engineer technology from scratch without any precedent to follow or improve. Their prototype won the Start-Up@Singapore competition, attracted some serious investment, and the world’s first full integrated, one-touch flatbread-making machine became a reality–picking up 35 patents along the way.
“It is now an IoT-enabled device that allows it to auto-upgrade itself with the latest software updates, and also provides for remote troubleshooting capabilities, which obviously implies that Rotimatic will keep getter smarter over time,” Rishi said.
Combining Rotimatic with IoT technology led to the creation of the Rotimatic app, which allows owners to connect to the bread-making machine via their devices to make customized flatbread recipes remotely.
Connecting Rural India To Technology
India has many rural areas isolated not only by physical distance, but also by inadequate access to technology. Headquartered in Bangalore is StoreKing, the brain child of Sridhar Gundaiah, who learned firsthand of this digital divide after he moved from his hometown to the city to finish his education.
His solution, now 4 years old, is an IoT-enabled e-commerce offering linking rural customers with more than 80,000 products via StoreKing kiosks in their local stores. They can make their selections and pay the local retailer–and then StoreKing provides the product.
“The retailer can guide customers on how to navigate through the interface, and once an order has been placed, they will get an SMS from Storeking in vernacular,” Gundaiah explained.
But, he admitted, convincing rural brick-and-mortar retailers to install a StoreKing kiosk is a challenge because the technology is so foreign. Collaboration between parties is key, “not only within the technical ecosystem, but within the vertical it is trying to integrate with,” said Frank Zeichner, co-founder and CEO of the Internet of Things Alliance Australia.
India, he added, has developed a sophisticated customer-service mentality, which gives it a huge advantage because IoT is all about changing the model from the product to the service. He spoke of a workforce that is very good at collaboration and sharing, which the internet of things demands “if it is going to work efficiently.”