Why always bad news?

Why always bad news?


It’s been quite a while that I have been observing, and have been disappointed as well, about the manner in which news in India is being reported through different channels, such as, television, online apps, Web, print, etc. Why always bad news? Is India only about sad issues? No. Since the purpose of journalism is to report noteworthy information as is, and perhaps at times validate or criticize it with a viewpoint, shouldn’t good and bad news be equally reported? I feel increasingly Indian media/news channels have become a medium to promote and propagate bad news, and bad behavior.

Whatever news medium you access, the channels are either reporting bad news (murders, rape, torture, theft, accidents, deaths, crises, violence, deceit, abusive behavior, corruption, lies) or they are reporting community/interest-specific news (about NGOs, sports, business, science, relationships, debates, indifferent view of incidents, travel, etc.). After consuming news for years, I have begun to question this now because I am observing that reading and listening to news now makes me feel as if more and more people in India are turning into bad people, with sad attitude and zero values.

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Why not report good behavior, children’s positive actions, good news, courteous gestures by governments, the brotherhood between communities, actions made by love and affection, positive impacts made by people in small and big ways?

I believe Indian media plays a big role in shaping the country’s culture and the next generation’s thinking, and hence behavior. I am sure subconsciously we feel different when we watch bad and good news. Are we not making people too comfortable with all kinds of bad behavior by feeding them 24×7 with negativity? Also, whenever such things are reported, there is no follow up with positivity where a person can see right/good behavior and how it can make the world a better place or positively impact someone. For example, while a news medium reports a theft, supplementing such news with two positive ones where people have helped someone, or created something good, would neutralize the shock/apathy generated by the former article and rather would infuse a positive sentiment with the latter.

India and Indians aren’t as bad as we read/see about it in the news. There are several people in the country who are contributing in meaningful ways in making their surroundings better, in elevating lives, and in spreading positive actions/thinking. Several such efforts are made even though these people go through their own struggles of life. But the spirit remains positive and that’s something that needs to be acknowledged and promoted. Positive behavior will bear positive results only when people are trained to see that effect. With constant evil feed, people in India are increasingly forgetting how to behave nicely and how a smile needs to be responded to.

It’s time media becomes a medium to shape India’s culture into a highly positive, good, healthy, spirited one. It’s time for a goodnews.in.

Kommunic8 Converts Gestures Into Speech for the Speech-impaired

Kommunic8 Converts Gestures Into Speech for the Speech-impaired


Bangalore-based Dhananjai Bajpai, 24, is using the gesture-recognition technology to develop Kommunic8, a wireless wearable device that converts hand motions into speech. The device holds promise of improving communication for over 19 lakh speech-disabled people in India alone. A pilot project is currently being done with EnAble India, Bangalore, to test the functioning and accuracy of the device in the hands of actual users.

Dhananjai, who belongs to Kanpur city of Uttar Pradesh (UP), India, has completed his Bachelor’s in Electronics and Communication Technology degree from Shri Ramswaroop Memorial College of Engineering and Management, Lucknow, UP. He works at KFX Circuits and Systems in Bangalore and is also associated with Excubator, a startup incubator and corporate venturing advisory organization, where he works on Kommunic8 in his spare time. His aim is to use gesture-recognition technology for social benefit.

According to the 2011 Census of India, of the 268+ lakh total disabled population about 19+ lakh people suffer from speech disability. This population struggles not only in communicating with their surrounding environment, but also faces low job prospects that lead to another fight for quality sustenance. Kommunic8 aims to enable this populace to “talk” with anyone without any hesitation. 

Challenges

One of the challenges in bridging the divide between the speech-impaired and the common folks is that the sign language is difficult for a common man to understand and is restricted to the speech and hearing disabled community. Also, there is no standard international sign language that is followed consistently across the globe – each region and culture has its local sign language. These reasons prevent the differently-abled to communicate with others and live their social and professional life normally.

Kommunic8 equips the speech-impaired with a lightweight, wireless wearable ring-shaped device that can convert their sign language gestures into reasonable sentences in real-time and provide output in the form of an audible speech as well as a readable text on the K8 smartphone app.

With 97 percent accuracy and self-learning capability, the current prototype of Kommunic8 can be customized and programmed for any local language.

How it works

Kommunic8 is still in the development phase. Dhananjai began working on the technology in 2013, as a final year project, by creating a wearable glove which could detect the degree of bending of fingers and show respective alphabets on a mobile phone screen as per the American Sign Language. That was just the beginning which got its fair share of media attention. However, the wearable glove had its shortcomings in terms of size, speed, cost, and usability.

 

Initial prototype of Kommunic8
Initial prototype of Kommunic8

The current prototype of Kommunic8 uses a small circuitry packed neatly inside a ring like structure. The circuit uses gesture algorithm and a motion sensor that recognizes the sign and orientation of the user’s hand on which the device is worn. When the user moves or bends his/her hand to make a gesture, the sensor collects information and the software processes it to convert data into a sentence. The sentence is then spoken by a mechanized voice that is made audible through an inbuilt speaker. The same output can be presented in the form of a text on the K8 smartphone app.

The device operates on inbuilt battery that lasts for 10 hours – Dhananjai is working on increasing the battery power to last up to 24 hours. The device can be charged by any micro-USB charger.

The initial device will come with 50 actions predefined for ready use. The software, however, uses machine learning and will keep updating the database of gestures and sentences as the user starts using Kommunic8 regularly. Speaking of the storage capacity, Dhananjai says, “For now, Kommunic8 will come with a memory of 2 GB which can store up to 3,000 actions. This is sufficient, as on average a user may use maximum 100-300 actions in general. However, there is a provision for users to update the dictionary by connecting the device to a computer and make changes through the K8 desktop app.”

The device is supported by the K8 app available for Android and Windows phones that can be used to display the text, configure the device, recreate database and produce the speech output for interactions.  Here is a demo video.

 

 

Next steps

There is still a lot to accomplish before a market-ready version of Kommunic8 is complete. 

Dhananjai has filed a provisional patent for the technology innovation.

Now he is primarily focused on drastically improving the aesthetics of the device and using a more human voice output instead of the mechanized one. He is also working on including a small screen in the device with four push-buttons that can be used to reconfigure, expand and delete the database on-the-go, thereby removing the need for a secondary device for any kind of updates or assistance. 

Meanwhile, Dhananjai is reaching out to non-government organizations that might be willing to support pilot projects and provide sponsorship for further improvement of the device.

EnAble India is using Kommunic8 to:

  • Help teachers learn and improve their sign language and make classroom learning more attractive
  • Empower EnAble associated speech-impaired employees to use Kommunic8 for their daily communication at work.

“Results from the pilot will help me improve the device for the users. I am hopeful that Kommunic8 will allow them to get front-end jobs,” says Dhananjai.

Dhananjai can be contacted at dhananjaisrmgpc@gmail.com and +91-8765379454.

 

Indian Startup Enhances Social TV Network Experience

Indian Startup Enhances Social TV Network Experience


A Bangalore based startup, Apptarix has recently launched TeleTango, a social TV network for Indian television.

TeleTango converts TV viewing from a one-way media to multi-way interaction channel.  With TeleTango, TV viewers can check what their friends are watching or what’s hot on TV, join friends in a show for a group chat, post opinion in Facebook and Twitter and interact with the program through opinion polls, voting and commentary in sync with the program. TeleTango also provides a platform for the TV broadcasters to host and feed the complementary digital content such as trivia, gossip, exclusive picture, opinion polls and voting in sync with live TV program. Read more to find out what differentiates TeleTango from its competitors. 

Indian Startup Uses Live Traffic Heatmaps To Provide Cabs

Indian Startup Uses Live Traffic Heatmaps To Provide Cabs


Getting a cab in Indian metro cities is a tough task. It’s even harder in India’s financial capital – Mumbai, Maharashtra, because there are fewer of them plying the streets. For Mumbai’s 15 million populace, there are just 60,000 taxis available.

A Mumbai-based startup Olacabs has devised a clever technology in hope of closing the gap between India’s infrastructure issues and providing a cab more reliably than its peers. It gives each of its drivers an Android phone to take bookings. And each phone is enabled with an Olacabs application that helps to form a live heatmap of traffic in the cities, and notify the driver of the jams.

The booking information is also crunched by Olacabs to help predict taxi demand ahead of time, and sends more drivers out to areas expecting bookings so that they can respond to online bookings sooner. The company has also built its own mapping layer over Google Maps that has been translated to local dialects for drivers. Founded in January 2011, Olacabs currently operates in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Pune. Read more

Plustxt: Low-Cost App For Users to Communicate in Regional Languages

Plustxt: Low-Cost App For Users to Communicate in Regional Languages


Bangalore-based startup Plustxt has designed a messaging application that not only offers an alternative to standard text messaging, but also allows users to do so in regional language.

Pratyush Prasanna, co-founder of Plustxt Mobile Solutions, is of the view that conventional messaging will soon be redundant. “For the amount of data used for sending an sms, the charges are exorbitant,” says the 32-year-old IIT-Kharagpur and IIM-Calcutta graduate who earlier worked with Microsoft, startup venture Gupshup and Xerox. “With increased penetration of smart phones and data there are other ways to communicate.”

In January, the company launched two apps on the Android platform: Plustxt, an English-language messaging app similar to the globally popular Whatsapp, and Plustxt India, which allows users to communicate in eight regional languages. Within months, the apps have recorded 60,000 downloads encouraging Prasanna and his team to work on versions for other platforms like Apple’s iOS and Nokia’s Symbian.

The regional language app, which the company is focusing on, allows users to combine English with a vernacular language. The user can type out with the regular mobile keyboard and the app transliterates the word to the chosen local language and English. The app is integrated with SMS so an app to app message will be sent over data, but a sms will be sent if the recipient has not downloaded the app. Read more in this report by Radhika P Nair.