Here’s the cutting-edge tech Narendra Modi will experience first-hand in Silicon Valley
Here are some of the technologies that Modi could experience first-hand as he visits some of the finest tech campuses in the world.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's upcoming 2-day visit to Silicon Valley is certain to bring a renewed technology impetus for the Indian government. During his 2-day trip starting September 26, Modi is meeting the Who’s Who of tech in the Southern San Francisco Bay Area, which is better known as Silicon Valley as he seeks partners for his Digital India vision. But more importantly, the Indian PM is also going to experience some of the most cutting edge technologies emerging from Silicon Valley, many still in the labs stage, but with huge potential to transform India and the world.
Here are some of the technologies that Modi could experience first-hand as he visits some of the finest tech campuses in the world, and which could give him new ideas on how technology can solve India’s problems:
Google is working on everything from self-driving cars to smart contact lenses. Keeping Indian roads and driving conditions in mind, self-driving cars may have zero relevance for India in the near future, but one product that could grab the attention of the Indian PM could be Google’s smart contact lens. The lens is able to measure glucose levels in diabetics by analysing their tears and may be on the market before 2019. India, which has the largest diabetes population in the world, could be the most relevant market for Google to launch its lenses if the cost factor remains viable for Indian wallets.
Another product could be Google Glass. While Google gave the consumer version a quiet burial, news is that the company is in the process of rejuvenating its glass division and has renamed its Glass team as 'Project Aura'. With a tagline of ‘Glass & beyond’ Project Aura isn’t focusing only on Glass and might develop cool wearables too. Google also continues to sell Glass to businesses for use in the workplace and is reportedly working on a new enterprise version of the device--Google Glass Enterprise Edition. One area where Google Glass made an undeniable impact was in medicine, with Indian surgeons testing the product while it was in the beta phase. As the company is looking to revive Glass at work, Google could pitch the enterprise version of the device for the Indian market, especially in the area of public health where it could help in telemedicine and in training. Public health transformation is a big challenge for Modi and Glass may have answers to some of the problems.
The world's largest social networking platform is working on laser technology to deliver high speed internet through drones or satellites. “As part of our Internet.org efforts, we’re working on ways to use drones and satellites to connect the billion people who don't live in range of existing wireless networks. Our Connectivity Lab is developing a laser communications system that can beam data from the sky into communities. This will dramatically increase the speed of sending data over long distances," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said. Facebook has been testing large, solar-powered drones in the skies over the UK. The company has also approached the Indian government in the past for carrying out a pilot project in the country. With India’s PM on its campus, Facebook will leave no stone unturned to showcase its technology given the fact that Facebook thinks its technology could complement Modi's 'Digital India' dream.
However, this is certain to make Indian Net Neutrality advocates see red. Facebook’s Internet.org, in partnership with Indian telcos, continues to receive criticism across the country; but is in no mood to withdraw its zero rating concept from India.
Microsoft is batting for its White-Fi technology to help boost Digital India. The technology can provide free WiFi connectivity to a large section of the Indian population through wider coverage and economical deployment and licence-free access. White-Fi or television White-Space technology works like WiFi on a bigger scale. The technology uses unused television terrestrial spectrum to deliver low-cost internet connectivity. It is critical to extend broadband in rural India to truly make India digital. The US software major is already working with the Andhra Pradesh government to implement the technology on a pilot basis in the Srikakulam district.
In addition, Microsoft will seek to provide Modi with its perspective on data sovereignty and would pitch its local cloud data centres in India that are scheduled to be operational by the year-end. With three local data centres, Microsoft aims to take a significant chunk of the estimated multi-billion dollar domestic market opportunity, competing with Google, Amazon, and IBM, besides powerful home-grown players like Netmagic (now an NTT Communications company), Tata Communications, Reliance Communications, Sify, and others. By offering cloud services through local data centres, the company expects to help make Digital India a reality. This opens new possibilities in e-governance, financial inclusion, healthcare and education. Microsoft's India-based data centres also gel well with Modi's Make in India initiative.
In his two-day visit, Narendra Modi's visit to the headquarters of innovator Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors may well be the most important. It is believed that Modi will get a look at Tesla's latest inventions, like Powerwall--a large battery pack, makes storing electricity easier and far more convenient: making solar panels potentially much more effective and also offering a greener backup solution to generators. Powerwall, touted as a game changer, is an off-grid solar power system that can store power for use in times of blackouts and when power is scarce – two problems Indians are very familiar with. Modi has already endorsed plans for India to produce 100,000 MW using solar energy by 2022.
Until now, India has focused on larger solar plants, which face infrastructural and regulatory challenges during implementation. With Modi's emphasis on clean energy, the government may be keen to look at how Tesla can help.
Inside Tesla's factory, Modi could also have a chance to get a dekko at the specialist robot assembly line built by the car maker, including 10 of the largest robots in the world and up to 160 specialist robots which put together the company's cars, something that could fascinate our tech-friendly PM.
Apple is secretive and may not show its technology cards to Modi. However, a meeting between Modi and Apple chief executive Tim Cook could be about 'Make in India.’ Unlike other companies that would be looking to woo Modi, it may well be the other way around with Apple, now the most valuable corporation in the world. According to rumours, Apple is looking to invest in manufacturing capacities in India that should give 'Make in India' a major boost. Foxconn, a contract manufacturer which makes much of Apple products, recently promised to invest $5 billion in its own manufacturing facility in Maharashtra. Modi may also woo Apple to invest in design, research & development in India.
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