This year saw the clash of two major tech companies led by Indians for grabbing the spotlight with their unique features, latest additions and in some cases, a completely rebranded focus. Microsoft Build 2018, which kicked off on 7the May, was still going on when Google launched its own annual Google I/O developers conference.
Technology giant Google just wrapped up the first day session of its annual developers conference, Google io 2018. The keynote address, although short, had some major announcements including the upgrades to its Assistant, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Chief Executive Officer of Google, Sundar Pichai started the conference by laying out the overall direction the company would be taking post the conference. Pichai spoke about the biggest controversies the company faced last year, namely the placement of cheese in the burger emoji and the floating foam in the beer emoji. Over 7000 people present there and millions watching online finally realised why Google is so serious about its emoticons.
Since their io last year, the company made a lot of progress in terms of AI and Machine Learning (ML.) This year’s platform concentrated on software over hardware as well as in showcasing the integration of AI and ML in the day to day life. Here are the highlights from the Google io 2018 developers conference.
Google AI – The company is empowering industries around the world by integrating AI into various technologies. These machine learning systems offer deeper analysis and newer insights as compared to regular technologies.
GBoard With Morse Code – In an attempt to make language and speaking easier and more accessible to people all around the world, Google introduced a new feature to its GBoard. The GBoard with Morse Code feature allows people with disability to use the application freely, thereby communicating easily.
Gmail – After completely redesigning the Google email system, Gmail, the tech giant added a new feature called Autocompose to the email system. Using ML, users will now get predictive phrases while typing an email and autocomplete sentences. From addresses to content, the ML system analyses the previous text to predict the next sentence.
Google Photos – Over 5 billion photos are viewed every day by users. Making the app more user friendly, Google added a new feature called App Actions to the photos app which suggests smart actions. The AI system can perform actions like sharing the images with people in the photos and editing images to make them look better with just one click. Adding to that, Google photos can also convert documents to PDF format.
Tensor Processing Units – Special purpose machine learning chips, the Tensor Processing Units, drive the AL and ML systems and product improvements in the company. These chips are now also available to Google’s Cloud partners as well. The company launched the next version of these units, TPU 3.0 during the conference which uses liquid cooling systems as they are 8x times more powerful.
Google Assistant – Trying to make the Google Assistant sound more human, the tech giant stitched together the voice of a real person code named Holly. In order to get the accents and language right for users all over the world, Google also brought in American singer John Legend. His voice as the Assistant will be released later this year. The Assistant is currently available in over 500 million devices. The Assistant will also be able to support 30 languages in 80 countries by the end of this year. Apart from that, users will not have to use the command ‘Hey Google’ or ‘OK Google’ every time they interact with the Assistant. Users can use the command, in the beginning, ask multiple questions within the same request.
Google Research – The tech firm is rebranding its Google Research division to Google AI with an increased focus on computer vision, natural language processing, and neural networks.
- Dashboard: The Dashboard shows users how often they have been using particular apps.
- App Timer: The App Timer allows users to set an amount of time to use a certain app and turns the icon grey once the time is up.
- Do Not Disturb Mode: Much like the current Do Not Disturb feature, this new application ensures users get no visual or sound alerts.
- Wind Down: The Wind Down feature helps users put down their phones, setting the whole screen to grayscale.
Green Tech Startups From India That Are Making A Difference
Technology, in all its glory, has been around to make people’s lives easier. However, despite all the greatness that comes with technology, the world has been using it for all the wrong reasons. Thankfully, there are some startups working toward making the world a better place by using technology for the good, rather than the bad. Here are a couple of green tech startups making things better, one project at a time!
1. HelpUs Green
Based out of Kanpur and founded in the year 2015, HelpUs Green was founded with the sole aim of saving the Ganges. Through the startup, the founders (Ankit Agarwal and Karan Rastogi) are working at collecting the waste strewn in and around the mosques and temples of Uttar Pradesh. Post collection, the startup works at recycling and reusing the collected waste in a manner beneficial to the environment. This startup has helped protect over 1,200 rural families in the area by giving them a way of life. Till date, HelpUs Green has worked to prevent close to 1,000 kg of toxic pesticides, insecticides and chemical waste from filtering and festering in the Ganges. Furthermore, the startup has also helped improve the lifestyle of the women in these villages by leaps and bounds, giving them a new lease of life with whatever they do.
2. Gram Power
Launched in the year 2010 by Yashraj Khaitan and Jacob Dickinson, Gram Power provides cutting edge smart grid technology to address the growing electricity concerns in the country. From setting up India’s first Solar Powered Smart Microgrid in Khareda Lakshmipura (Rajasthan,) to now providing energy for light bulbs, buttermilk churners, television and fans to over 30 remote areas across rural India, Gram Power is working at improving the country’s electricity situation by using renewable energy sources!
3. Husk Power Systems
It is often said the real secret to energy lies in the countryside. Unfortunately, because of the severe lack of facilities in the area, these resources are largely left untapped. Husk Power Systems, a startup based out of Bihar, realised this gap between resources and technology and decided to work on what was available and set out to improve the situation. By using a biomass gasifier for electricity generation, each of the plants owned by this startup is currently helping over 400 households in rural areas. Not only does Husk Power Systems save over 18,000 liters of diesel and 42,000 liters of kerosene, this startup has worked at improving the health and living conditions of people in inaccessible areas.
4. Chakr Innovation
Launched in the year 2016 by Arpit Dhupar, Kushagra Srivastava and Prateek Sachan, Chakr Innovation is a unique startup in more ways than one. The group of friends came together when they realised pollution could be curbed in a safe and economical way. By creating the Chakr Shield, Chakr Innovation aims at removing diesel soot from generators and converts the removed soot to inks and paints. Not only does this help in reducing the amount of waste, it also helps in clearing up extremely disastrous pollution.
5. Digital Green
Digital Green, a not for profit organisation, works with organisations and technology in an attempt to help improve the health, nutrition and agriculture situations of the rural areas. From creating interactive videos to building platforms that foster growth to creating an improved standard of living for these people, Digital Green has worked since its inception to improve the world around them, one village at a time!
It is worth appreciating the efforts when technology is used to benefit the world, rather than harm it and these startups are doing exactly that! If you know any other startups doing the same, comment and let us know!
Edtech Startups That Are Changing The Education Game
With education being one of the most sought after fields for more than half the population of the country, it comes as no surprise that edtech startups are the next big thing of the startup world. While some coaching centers take a look at how to better education through the traditional way, others look at bettering with the help of technology. From education funding to facilitating better coaching methods, below are some startups that have completely transformed the education landscape of India!
1. BYJUS: The Learning App
Founded in the year 2008 by Byju Raveendran, the app was created to help students train for competitive exams like CAT, JEE, IAS, GRE, and GMAT. The app came into the limelight when it secured an investment to the tune of $ 50 million from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Sequoia Capital, among other investors. Using interactive videos, interactive learning concepts and personalised tutors, BYJUS aims at helping students learn by understanding and not by memorising what is being taught.
Founded by Nishant Patni and Pranshu Bhandari, the CultureAlley website came into being when the two founders realised people wanted to learn new languages but found it really difficult to master a new task. The duo further realised that out of the 1 billion people trying to learn a new language, over 60% were actually struggling to learn English! With regular courses on grammar and English, the website is aimed at helping people get over the discomfort of learning a new language from scratch. The main goal of this app? To help people achieve what was thought to be impossible.
Founded by Aditi Avasthi, Embibe consists of a group of young thinkers who believe that in order to learn, every student deserves personal attention. An online website designed to make preparing for tests an easy task, Embibe works towards helping those preparing for the engineering examinations. Recently receiving attention for getting funding to the tune of $ 4 million from Kalaari Capital and Lightbox Ventures, Embibe works with to reduce the amount of pressure students face while working on some of the most exhaustive examinations during their student life.
4. Plastic Water Labs
Based out of Bengaluru, Plastic Water Labs is unique in the sense that it aims at improving the quality of education by introducing the concept of virtual reality. Through virtual reality, Plastic Water Labs is working at helping students understand and retain information for longer periods of time. Currently focused on students belonging to the 6th grade to the 8th grade, Plastic Water Labs is working towards introducing virtual reality in the fields of mathematics and science, two of the toughest subjects students in these age groups have to deal with on a regular basis. With only a nominal subscription fee, Plastic Water Labs is working improving the quality of education as well as to make life easier for children prepping for the toughest times of their lives.
Founded in the year 2009 by Krishna Kumar, Simplilearn was started with the aim of helping working professionals. With more than 400 courses in multiple fields covering a wide array of subjects like IT, digital marketing, programming, big data, and analytics, Simplilearn gives you government recognised certificates for every course you have taken through the website. Since the time of its inception, more than 5,00,000 individuals have been certified!
From improving the kind of equipment available to increasing the scope of knowledge, startups everywhere are working towards the betterment of education through technology. If you think we missed out on any other edtech startups, comment and let us know!
Google’s Founding Story And How It Became What It Is Today
Search engines and web domains have been around since the beginning of the internet. Despite being the most popular search engine now, Google has been around for a very short period of time. Here is how this search engine conglomerate was founded!
Like all love stories, Larry Page’s and Sergey Brin’s story had very troubled beginnings. The two met for the first time at Stanford University in the year 1995 and from the moment they locked eyes, everyone around knew trouble would follow. At the time, Brin was a second year student, whose job was to take potential students around campus and Page, an interested student, ended up in Brin’s group.
Walking up and down the hill, Brin and Page could not stop arguing with each other, constantly debating and fighting over everything from the weather to the historic places of San Francisco. Obnoxious, social and extremely opinionated, Page and Brin were poles apart in every way. What made them come together then? Their interests and desire to create a one of a kind search engine.
The first project
Page and Brin were thrown together for the first time ever when they started writing the code for a search engine, then called BackRub, because of its ability to analyse backlinks. Despite the tumultuous relationship shared by the co writers, the code became a massive success. So successful was the project that it resulted in the creation of a research paper titled The Anatomy of a Large Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine.
BackRub was unique in its functionality. By using an internally developed technology called PageRank, BackRub ranked a website’s importance by taking into account the number of pages on the website, the importance of the pages and the number of times they were linked to to the original site. The product was relatively successful but unfortunately, buyers were not interested in getting a product which was still in its initial stages. Finally, after multiple rejections. Brin and Page decided to innovate and create something new with (hold your breaths) Google!
The name that changed the world
Page and Brin took inspiration for the name Google from Gogol and voila, the strategy worked! A new name and a new beginning was all the founders needed for Google to get the much needed investors. Sun Microsystems co founder Andy Bechtolsheim was so impressed that after a quick demo of Google, he told the pair “Instead of us discussing all the details, why don’t I just write you a check?”
Bechtolsheim’s check was for $ 100,000 (made out to Google Inc) giving Page and Brin the much needed push toward success. The first two weeks after the founders got the check was quite an iconic one. With more than enough money in the bank, the duo opened their first office in Menlo Park, California. Post that, Google.com, a search engine that answered more than 10,000 questions a day, was launched.
History was created
Four years later, Page and Brin dropped the word beta from Google’s title and in 2001, Google finally filed and received a patent for its Ranking Technology! After that, there was no stopping Google and ever since, the search engine has changed the way the internet works. Interestingly, the first ever Google Doodle of the Burning Man was created to talk about the company’s motto, “Do No Evil.”
Google has come a long way, from being an accidental company to being one of the largest in the world. With exquisite patents to its name and extensive research at its hands, Google has definitely created a place for itself in the world of technology and innovation.
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