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From driverless cars to smart speakers, ieDecode demystifies new technology

The first edition of ieDecode, India’s first exclusively online techknowledge summit organised by indianexpress.com in partnership with Airtel 4G, saw some of the best minds in the tech industry try to demystify everything from autonomous cars to AI-powered smart speakers. Thousands of indianexpress.com readers viewed the two-hour long event to learn more about the new technologies that are slowly becoming a part of our lives.

In her welcome address, Durga Raghunath, CEO, Indian Express Digital said it is clear now that users are maturing based on the trends we see on IndianExpress.com, the second largest newspaper website in India. “They are comparing more before buying, they are reading and watching more reviews – the deeper the better. We believe that the mature user has moved beyond the single vector of price,” she said.

In the opening keynote, Rajiv Gupta, Partner & Director, The Boston Consulting Group said M-commerce, omnichannel, use of predictive analysis, voice and chat bots and personalisation will be key to the growth of digitisation of India.

In what was a masterclass on autonomous cars, Jeff Schneider, Engineering Lead at Uber, said the car of the future will take advantage of machine learning and artificial intelligence and will end up replacing the driver itself. “Uber has already driver 3 million miles in autonomous mode and given 50,000 trips,” he said, on the pilots that are going on in the US with self-driving cars. Schneider hoped someday Uber would be able to bring its self-driving cars to India.

Speaking on how India is dictating the smartphone product development, Pranav Shroff, Global Director, Portfolio Strategy & Planning, HMD Global said his company saw India as an important market and phones like the Nokia 2 and Nokia 7 Plus have been designed keeping the Indian user in mind. He said network conditions and other peculiar factors here ensure India becomes a test bed for companies like HMD Global.

Giving an insight into how artificial intelligence can help improve creativity, Shanmugh Natarajan, MD, Adobe Systems said Adobe was combining art and technology to bring digital experiences to life. He said artificial intelligence and machine learning will prove disruptive in nature in all segments. “We believe that when we put art and science to work, magic will happen.”

In the only AMA segment of the event, Manu Jain, Global VP and Country Head of Xiaomi answered questions from customers and smartphone users. He said Xiaomi’s aim was to bring more people online through its affordable smartphones, but also wanted to move beyond smartphones with TVs, Air Purifiers, smart fitness bands, etc. Asked how Xiaomi was dealing with supply shortages in both offline and online markets for budget offerings like Redmi Note 5 Pro, Jain said: “The demand for Redmi Note 5 Pro is significantly higher and we are doing everything possible to ramp up the production.”

Explaining the relatively new concept of AI-driven smart speakers to the Indian audience, Puneesh Kumar, Country Manager, Alexa said the Echo range has been customised for the Indian market and there are already over 12,000 skills live for this new geography.

Explaining how air purifiers work, Sudhir Pillai, General Manager at Honeywell, said air Pollution has become the biggest environmental health risk and one should acknowledge it as a public health concern.

Speaking on things to keep in mind while designing a product or a service for India, US-based Internet entrepreneur Soujanya Bhumkar said beautiful and intuitive design was a priority for our ancestors.

“In today’s world I am surprised to see that while India provides tremendous back end support to a lot of applications, how few of the top engagement or top grossing apps are made or rather designed in India. We collectively need to change that,” he added. The sessions are now viewable on ieDecode.com.