During the beta demonstration of upcoming smart technology platforms at the headquarters of Smartron, India’s first global technology OEM status aspirant, in the microcontrolled skyscrapers of Hyderabad, I felt like I was living inside Spike Jonze’s 2013 romantic sci-fi film, Her. There was no purr of Scarlett Johansson’s voice, but there definitely was a homegrown artificial intelligence (AI) personal assistant, Maya. With her ability to unlock doors, make coffee, adjust curtains according to the lighting and even suggest flights/hotels depending on your preferences, she left the door open to fall in love with her, like Joaquin Phoenix did in the movie.
Once inside the confines of Smartron’s Nanakramguda facility, it strikes you that it is taking giant strides in the country’s Internet of Things (IoT) scene. Led by founder Mahesh Lingareddy, it has developed tronX™, a ‘first of its kind’ AI-powered IoT platform with four verticals – tronX™ Personal, tronX™ Health, tronX™ Home and tronX™ Infra – which, according to the company, integrate human lives.
The intelligent ecosystem essentially connects a range of devices, sensors and systems to the tronX™ cores to offer highly intelligent, always evolving experiences and services. It’s similar to the Amazon Echo (a cylindrical smart speaker, powered by Amazon’s personal assistant Alexa, capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic and other real time information, along with the ability to control several smart devices using itself as a home automation hub), only more competent.
“The tronX™ is Smartron’s first of its kind AI powered IoT platform and a kind of next gen OS designed to run seamlessly across a wide range of devices, sensors, vehicles and systems. It is an experience based on assistive and predictive automation AI. The tronX™ experience is deeply integrated into the operating system, and therefore can respond with highly relevant suggestions for the user. tronX™ combines state of the art AI and IoT capabilities to make us, machines, industries, infrastructure and government more productive, efficient, safer, secure and richer,” the company said.
You’ll know what I’m talking about if you had tuned in to MW’s Facebook live from this 1,000-odd sq ft tronX™ demo/testing space. If not, it’s worth revisiting. As mentioned earlier, the tour began with Lingareddy unlocking the door with a voice command – one of the four means of interacting with tronX™, apart from face recognition, gestures and touch (it’s worth mentioning that the hub here was a Smartron smartphone). Inside, there was a kitchen-like space, complete with daily-use electronic appliances. The coffee-maker, the waterheater and the gas cylinder measurement dock were all controlled by the IoT in a manner as unobtrusive as Samantha’s. Not only could you turn them on and off, you could also monitor their functioning through a dashboard.
“Using a number of communication protocols including IR, Wi-Fi, zigbee and Z-Wave, amongst others, all devices are connected to the tronX™ Core and to each other as well. However, we’re not just going to look at bringing in all of these smart devices, but in the Indian consumer context we are also looking at partnering with other companies to develop smart sensors, switches that can convert regular appliances to smart appliances and will become a part of the tronX™ Home,” Lingareddy said.
The same dashboard also found an application in the adjacent living room space. It lets you take control of the lighting conditions (lamps, curtains etc), the air conditioning and even what channels you want to surf on your television. In fact, upon connecting a converted smart device to the set top box, you can give voice commands to the smart TV for a personalised choice of music, films and more. Playing video games via mere gestures doesn’t seem far-fetched any more.
Then there’s the tronX™ Personal vertical, which is an extension of the solution to your entertainment, travel, shopping, financial, health, event, communication and collaboration experiences across devices and contexts. “It offers solutions that you want, and not what the majority likes. It’s not only personalised, but also localised,” said the company, which wants to make the most of the global transition ‘from the universal approach to personal approach.’ I’m not sure whether it’ll be able to compose music like Samantha on the beach, but it will evolve according to your audio needs with time. Spit out a mood, and it’ll play exactly what you need.
We were also introduced to the Health vertical, which used a smart bicycle to exhibit its application in daily life – from automatically monitoring training schedules to customising diet requirements. A shockingly smart watch that is a part of this ecosystem enables you to undergo an instant ECG test – the system monitors and manages medical history, insurance data and offers intuitive and preventive solutions from a range of partners who are already on board. Finally, there’s B2B tronX Infra, which enables organisations to streamline their work and increase efficiency, from manpower and energy to resources and carbon emissions.
Upon the conclusion of the tour, I was left obsessed with AI technology. It was a similar aftertaste to when the credits rolled after Her – but in reality, doubts still exist over privacy, ease of access and affordability. Lingareddy responds that depending on the scale of use, the technology could cost anywhere between Rs 20,000 and Rs 2 lakh. Importantly though, it is expected to hit the market by the end of this financial year. The rest of the concerns are expected to be addressed with the evolution of technology, in the times to come.
Critics have also expressed fears of overreliance on technology, but it’s for all of us to see how technology is shifting from consuming to being helpful. Even in the fantasy world of Spike Jonze’s story, Samantha’s arrival in Theodore’s life only helps him seek closure on his overdue divorce, and rise above his video-gaming, self-flagellating misery in the preceding months. “I’ve just come to realise that we’re only here briefly. And while I’m here, I wanna allow myself joy. So fuck it,” Theodore’s friend Amy says, in one of their conversations on the topic. Is that the approach to adopt for the visibly tech-dependent future of humankind? Only time will tell.
- tronX is Smartron’s firstof-its kind AI-powered IoT platform and a next-gen OS, designed to run across a wide range of devices, vehicles and systems
- It aims at ‘integrating lives’ with its four verticals – tronX Personal, tronX Health, tronX Home and tronX Infra
- It’s based on assistive and predictive AI.
- The tronX experience is deeply integrated into the operating system, and therefore can respond with highly relevant suggestions for the user
- tronX combines state of the art AI and IoT capabilities to make machines and infra safer, more secure and richer.
Smartron: Now and Then
- Smartron is India’s first global technology OEM and premier IoT brand, founded in 2014 with the vision of building an IP-driven global product brand out of India.
- The company recently unveiled tronX™, Smartron’s AI powered IoT platform offering devices, sensors and services delivering seamless and intelligent experiences targeting consumer, enterprise, industrial and infrastructure markets.
- Smartron stepped into the market with the launch of t.phone and t.book last year. With cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar as its face, Smartron launched the srtphone, and following success in the online marketplace, the company tied up with Redington India to strengthen its retail presence, for exclusive distribution of the smartphone in offline retail.
- Since inception, Smartron has managed to raise close to Rs 200 crore from investors globally, and has in turn invested almost Rs 100 crore to build the tronX™ ecosystem through acquisitions and partnerships with other startups in India. With more than 50 patents already filed, Smartron is innovating and investing in a variety of smart, sensor, robotics, big data, artificial intelligence and UI/UX technologies.
- With tronX™, Smartron is focussed on building a strong devices + services ecosystem across four key segments, which include Health, Home, Infra as well as Personal.