Internet of Things: Indian Startups and Their Challenges – Part I

The foreign startups featured in the IoT series based on Home Automation and Cloud ignited a series of questions in the minds of Indian readers: Is this possible in India?

The foreign startups featured in the IoT series based on Home Automation and Cloud ignited a series of questions in the minds of Indian readers: Is this possible in India? Yes, it is possible and in fact it does make sense to do an IoT startup from India. There are a number of startups in India trying to work on IoT.

IoT, to put it in a layman’s words is technology that lets devices communicate with each other, sans human interaction and takes the desired decision. Indian startups like Transpose India, Epsilon Electronics, Azoi, Locanix et al are working in this space.

For the sake of convenience of readers and enthusiasts in this field, we will exclusively cover the challenges faced by the startups and how they overcame them. The series is intended to be a checklist for any IoT enthusiast willing to plunge in this domain.

Transpose India

Transpose India is a solution to the inability of designated infrastructure to sustain the ever increasing growth in vehicular numbers proposed by a bunch of young students from CEPT, Ahmedabad. India’s infrastructure is in shambles, people blame it to lack of funds but design, planning and strategy has played an equally important role. The startup intends to acquire and analyse vehicular data for planning purposes and resource optimisation. While there are several firms doing this, what breaks the startup from the rest is the automation of process of data collection and analysis.

Transpose India 1

The firm intends to capture the vehicular traffic on the road through a camcorder, which will be located at any high point that covers the maximum nadir. These sensors are placed at vantage points in the target areas and the input video is processed real-time and the numbers are wirelessly transmitted to the main server. The data acquired is further processed and made legible enough to be understood and converted into data packages. These data packages withhold the potential of producing further analysis in the form of future trends and patterns. It also helps understanding whether the infrastructure provided is living upto its potential or not. This data is then used for employing strategies needed for setting up infrastructure. What seems to be a simple process, has quite a lot of challenges involved.

1) With a variety of vehicles in the Indian market, the process of identifying the vehicles as a separate entity viz. a car, a bike, a cycle, a truck is difficult, let alone be accurate. Transpose has developed the design of the software in such a way that it clubs any two small vehicles like two wheelers and identifies it into one as a four wheeler. This gives a proper account of the space occupied on the road. The accuracy involved is round about 90 % when tested in their beta stage.

Transpose India 2

2) Battery Backup: One of the most important areas, which has not been given due attention, involved in the IoT section is power. When the aim is to minimize human interaction, the devices should be equipped to restore the power back up when the battery wanes out. Transpose intends to install the devices on the top of a traffic signal or solar power enabled street lights so that the issue of power never arises.

3) External Conditions: Come monsoon and all the fairy tale plans gets washed away. IoT devices in general, be it used for external or internal purpose, need to always be resistant enough to survive the wild conditions. If too much wind, rain or heat causes it to break down, the whole purpose of communication and convenience holds little substance. Transpose intends to come up with water resistant equipments to keep the cycle intact.

4) Cost: One of the major factor involved thwarting the forest fire speed of IoT is the initial cost involved and maintenance attached to it. Devices put up by the public agencies on the crossroads for recording cost a bomb, ranging in few lakhs. CEPT students have very conveniently built the device where they assembled the cheap parts and built it which slashed the cost by more than 50%.

5) Technology: This doesn’t seem hard to a guy who is a techgeek and starts his own IoT firm. But these were CEPT students, master in design and strategy but novice to the ‘For’ and ‘While’ loop along with the jargons of electronics. Getting the right technical manpower is a challenge for the big honchos even, let alone startups. Transpose had to reschedule many of its completion plans only for the lack of right techo. Having a technical co-founder always helps right from execution to hiring the right technical resource.

6) Communication: Since communication is the most stressed part in IoT, the firm has not found any issues with the same as of now. The firm uses the GSM network to transfer the data, which they claim to be not more than few Kb every second. But with a vulnerable infrastructure as ours, real-time communication do pose a challenge and particularly with startups like Tado, when implemented in India.

Transpose has patented its technology. While it already has tried and tested, the final version is to be out by August. The efforts of Transpose have been well recognized by Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS) with which it has signed a MoU. On completion of the project, IIHS intends to give them the necessary grant as per the MoU.

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