Technology Innovations

Posts Tagged ‘Smartphone


For the 220 million smartphone users in India, a Bangalore-based startup Street Smart Mobile Technologies has launched an app, SMS Sunami, to organize the deluge of transactional and promotional text messages we receive on our phones daily. The app, which is built using Android Studio, is based on an artificial intelligent platform that uses natural language processing to understand the context of messages and automatically classify them into predefined categories such as bills, entertainment, food, health and fitness, lifestyle, telecom operator, tickets, travel, and more.

According to a recent study, there are over two billion mobile phone subscribers worldwide who use the short message service (SMS) to exchange more than 350 billion text messages every month. Of these over 15% are promotional messages. The SMS Sunami app is aimed organizing and categorizing text messages of the Android smartphone users, making the messages in the default inbox easier to sift.

Street Smart Mobile Technology team (L-R): Prakhar, Prabhu, and Sudeep

Street Smart Mobile Technology team (L-R): Prakhar, Prabhu, and Sudeep

Incubated at Tata Elxsi’s Incub@ate, StreetSmart Mobile Technologies was founded in May 2014 by 27-year-old Prabhu SNM of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, with software engineers Prakhar Dighe (25) of Indore, Madhya Pradesh, and Sudeep (24) of Narsapuram, Andhra Pradesh. The trio developed the SMS Sunami app as an offshoot of another app that was aimed at offering hyper-local offers to consumers on their smartphones.

The hyper-local offers app could not succeed but the research for it led the team to realize that consumers are receiving host of text messages directly from service providers and merchants. And besides these messages, people also receive transactional messages processed by banks and of course, personal messages as well. No wonder our message box keeps filling up. And as the name suggests (and refers to tsunami), to help the users clear their inbox without having to delete their messages, SMS Sunami automatically categorizes the overwhelming number of messages a user receives.

“Our algorithm categorizes all text messages except those received from 10-digit numbers, which are personal numbers. This feature ensures privacy,” explains Prabhu.

 

Key features

Besides organizing the incoming messages into defined groups, the key feature of SMS Sunami is that it is capable of reading promotional text messages to serve contextual offers based on the content. For example, if you have a confirmation message from an airline on your travel tickets, SMS Sunami will serve you a cab-rental offer on the date of your travel. The concept applied to smartphone is much similar to what Google does by reading your mailbox. 

SMS Sunami app screenshot-Lifestyle

Lifestyle category screenshot of the app

Addressing the privacy concern on messages being read by the app, Prabhu says, “The SMS Sunami app does not store any messages to read and understand them. The program is built to ensure that the app works offline, without the need for the Internet, and does not store any data on the server. Our program simply functions within the app, reads the message, and pulls contextual offer from the associated merchants. The only time when the app uses the Internet is to identify the message sender with the brand logo to serve the message to the user in a more aesthetic manner.”

Besides this feature, the app allows easy search through the message box that allows you to search through your messages, by vendor name or by keywords. It also allows you to delete messages in bulk. SMS Sunami also automatically identifies key information in messages, such as contact numbers, web links, PNR, tickets, and provides them as ‘call for action’ links, making it easier for the user to use the information instantly.

The free beta version of the app is currently available on Android Play store.

Asked about the release of the iOS version of the app, Prabhu says, “The message APIs [application program interfaces] in the iOS are restricted for developers. This means we cannot develop any iOS app that requires reading the user’s messages. In this matter, I have written to Tim Cook requesting the need for leniency. I am awaiting his reply.”

 

Next steps

The team is working on scaling up the app into free and premium versions. The beta version is in the pre-revenue stage with 1,000+ customers. The trio’s short-term target is to increase the user base to 10,000 customers by the year end.

Sharing his plans for the future, Prabhu adds, “In future we plan to introduce ‘personal’ as a category so that our algorithm can detect personal messages without intruding privacy and categorize them appropriately. We also plan to enable the app to both receive and send messages. The idea is to eventually replace the default messaging application on smartphones with the SMS Sunami app.”

Improved user interface and enabling the user to customize the categories are also part of the plan. The team is also mulling over the idea of patenting the app’s software in the U.S.

The SMS Sunami team can be contacted at ceo@smssunami.com and +91-9790949400.

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BloodBag_470At the 2015 MIT Design Innovation workshop, a MIT Media Lab India initiative, a group of students and professionals has created a mobile application called Blood Collective that allows those in need of blood to search for voluntary blood donors available in the vicinity.  

The team developed the application prototype at the 2015 MIT Design Innovation Workshop in Gandhinagar as part of the Civic Innovation track which focused on building “the tools that help change the world together”and “a better technological infrastructure to support the engaged citizens who are already acting to make their communities better, and inspire others to join them”.

The home screen of Blood Collective app

The home screen of Blood Collective app

Combining different skills, each team member contributed differently to create the alpha version of the app and test it during the workshop. While IT industry professional Pragnendra Rahevar (32) floated the idea and shared the concept, National Institute of Design graduate Akshah Ish (27) designed the complete user interface of the application. The core development of the app has been done by Ayush Sharma (20) of Arya College of Engineering and IT, Jaipur, with necessary research and support provided by Abhimanyu Kumar (20) of Haldia Institute of Technology, West Bengal. 

Bridging the Gap

Voluntary blood donation is considered the highest form of humanitarian service as it is done without the expectation of knowing who it will eventually help. Each unit of blood donation helps many patients as blood is usually segregated into RBCs, Platelets, WBCs and Plasma and given away as per requirement. But then there are yet not enough people who opt to donate blood. 

In India there is constant shortage of blood. According to a 2012 World Health Organization (WHO), every country needs at least a one percent blood reserve. India, with its 1.2 billion population, needs 12 million units of blood annually but collects only nine million of which 70 percent is from voluntary blood donors while the remaining 30 percent is from family/replacement donors.  

Even though most blood collection is done from voluntary donors, the voluntary blood donors network remains fragmented and inaccessible to a large community at the time of need. The Blood Collective smartphone application aims to tap into this existing network of blood donors and bring them at your fingertips. 

“In India it is just a chance that you will get blood when you need it. Some people do not want to donate blood, while some who are willing to do it find it frustrating to go to the blood banks criteria, fill forms and donate. Tapping into the community of voluntary blood donors therefore remains a challenge. The current gap between the demand for blood and its supply also leaves scope for touts, agents and illegal, unsafe blood donation. Paid blood donation is illegal in India.  Our application targets the problem in a simple manner – if you need blood, connect directly with multiple blood donors close by and see if any of them is willing to offer help,” explains Ayush.

How it works

During the workshop the alpha version of the Indian-centric app was hosted on local servers and directly uploaded to a few mobile phones. However, based on the feedback from mentors and users, with the help of a few volunteers the team is now developing the beta version of the app. 

The app is expected to function like this: The first time the user accesses the application, she will be requested to select from the two categories “I want blood” or “I want to volunteer”. Once a voluntary blood donor selects the latter option, her name and number gets registered in the database. However, for safety reasons, the name and number of the donor is not shared with the requester. Rather, when the requester searches for a donor in the vicinity, she can view profile icons of the available donors and can send a request to them through the app. The requester’s number is sent to the donor and the decision to respond entirely rests with the donor.

The map feature shows the requester available blood donors in the vicinity

The map feature shows the requester available blood donors in the vicinity

The volunteer category also enables the voluntary blood donors to see all requests, allowing the user to contact the requester directly and offer blood donation. 

“The most important aspect of the app is to generate awareness about safety of blood donation and encourage volunteering. Currently, whenever people need blood, they either opt to call, send SMS or post on social networking websites. The wait for a response is stressful. At blood banks, if you have donated blood in past six months, you may be charged around Rs. 1,400 per unit. If you haven’t, the chances of getting blood are dismal. The solution to all this is volunteered blood donation. Bringing volunteer blood donors closer to the needy therefore could be very helpful and that is the focus of the Blood Collective app. Using the app, both a volunteer and a requester can save lives,” explains Pragnendra who has been volunteering with a non-profit organization for over three years, organizing blood donation camps across the country. 

Next Steps

The team is developing the beta version of the app and improving its user interface, adding more features to it, and carrying out basic user testing. It is expected to be available on the Web and on Google Play store by May 2015. The group is looking for more volunteers with specialized skills to develop the application for the iOS and Windows platforms. 

The Blood Collective mobile app has a huge social potential to connect and build a large network of voluntary blood donors with the requesters, allowing the common man to save lives and be human. However, it needs to build on its unique aspects that will differentiate it from the existing apps. 

To know more about Blood Collective, contact pragnendra@gmail.com.

(This article is part of a series on innovations presented at the 2015 MIT Media Lab India Design Innovation Workshop.)


Indian tech startup CarIQ Technologies has developed a wireless device to allow users keep a virtual eye on their chauffeurs. The device plugs into the data port of a car and serves as a sort of nanny cam for the driver, streaming information to the owner’s mobile phone.

According to CarIQ’s founder Sagar Apte, the product is particularly helpful for folks with drivers. Along with car’s location, CarIQ can share information about how the driver is driving, whether the car is being misused.

 

 

Similar devices are used in the U.S. to monitor teenagers’ driving habits. But CarIQ is targeting Indian customers that want to make sure that their car isn’t being taken for a joyride while they are having dinner or are on a holiday abroad.

The CarIQ, which looks like a chubby, white memory stick, is plugged into a data port below the steering wheel of a car. It uses a SIM card and GPS to track the vehicles location and also collects data on how it is being driven. All that information is uploaded to the Internet so users can keep track of their cars through their cell phones. So, if your driver is racing the car somewhere far away, the device will pinpoint where the car is, at what speed it is being driven and even whether it is being driven rashly, as the CarIQ monitors sudden stops and acceleration.

The CarIQ also alerts users to engine and battery problems or the need for a tune up. It can also help drivers get better gas mileage. Read more


Chennai-based Mad Street Den startup has built a cloud-based platform that uses artificial intelligence to enable any smartphone with a camera to identify faces, detect facial expressions and emotions, and react to facial and head gestures. The expression acts as a trigger for a certain action, for example, frowning at the phone when an unwanted call comes in could make it shut down forthwith, or lifting an eyebrow could send the caller a message asking ‘What now?’

This image-recognizing platform, called MAD Stack, can be used by app developers and companies to create a futuristic mobile user experience. Mad Street Den founders Ashwini Asokan and Anand Chandrasekaran  explain that the idea is to make machines more useful by making them a bit human: fun, intelligent, and relevant.

The process of recognizing a human expression or responding to a gesture is simple for a human brain, but quite complex for a smartphone camera to do digitally. It is artificial intelligence that enables a camera to do this. What’s more, the app keeps getting smarter with use, through machine learning algorithms. Read more


In the backdrop of the rising incidences of crime against women, three software engineers of Nashik, Maharashtra, have developed an application which would ensure help for women in trouble. The app, “Me against rape” can be downloaded on Android devices for free.

It is a one-touch app that was developed keeping in mind the urgency of the situation. The user has to set a text for messaging a known person or a relative for help, like “I am in trouble”. There is a facility for saving two phone numbers for help. There is a ‘help’ button on the screen of the mobile phone which has the message contact and call contact options on it. When in trouble the user can press the help button which will automatically send the alert message t to the contact person registered. The app also provides the option of audio recording for verbal abuse that can be recorded stealthily as well as logs the latitude, longitude and location of the user every 10 minutes.

Anoop Unnikrishanan (24), Gunwant Battashe (23), engineer and graphic designer Jayesh Bankar (23) developed the first version of the software a fortnight back in a span of eight days and the second version in the next eight days. This is an excerpt from a detailed story filed by Sumita Sarkar of TNN. Read more


The storage in your phone has a bigger effect on your apps than you might think. The latest smart phones and tablets at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month came with an emphasis on faster processors and compatibility with faster wireless networks. But new research shows that the biggest performance bottleneck with popular smart-phone apps such as Facebook and Google Maps is, in fact, how fast they can read and write a device’s data storage. The results suggest that without changing how mobile gadgets store data, the benefits of new networks and processors will be limited. Read more


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