Startups working on a technology which they think will change the world often remain the way it starts out- a dream. It’s difficult for a small company to get a foot into the doorway of the bigger OEMs and convince them to use the new technology. Now, a startup named Cube26 that started out similarly has managed to achieve reasonable success in this.
Their technology allows devices to recognise users, interpret human gestures, and understand their emotions; and they’ve built this over the past two years. The technology has been developed by a few Indians sitting in Santa Clara, USA and the team has just announced their partnership with 6 leading Indian smartphone OEMs- Micromax, Intex, Celkon, Zen, iBerry and Lemon Mobile. These OEMs account for about 25% of the smartphones in India and the total number of smart phones in India currently is around 50 million according to various reports, which means about 12.5 million users will be seeing Cube 26’s technology.
Cracking the OEM deals
Here’s what the team has to say. Traditionally, OEMs are a bit difficult to reach out to and make connections to. We had a couple of people who researched the market, found out the key people speaking at events, or talking at press conferences. We did everything from finding out contact, calling up customer care number, spamming inboxes. Difference in time zone was one of the biggest hurdles. We had to shift our office hours to late night when we started receiving traction. We wanted to be sure that we are awake and active during their respective business hours. Rule of thumb is that enterprises are usually slower in response time than startups. However, slower time doesn’t always mean they don’t understand the product or they don’t want to move forward; sometimes, they need to get approval from marketing, sales, business strategists and decision makers at the company. We were persistent and it paid off. We are very fortunate to work with these OEMs.
Saurav Kumar, Aakash Jain and Abhilekh Agarwal, all completed their Masters from Cornell University in 2011. They met each other at various Hackathons in the US and connected with the fact that each of them was really passionate about technology- the absence of a business use-case at the starting wasn’t a deterrent. They were working on the technology for a good two years, and started talking about it when they needed more people on board. A team of 7 now, Cube 26 is braced up for the road ahead.
On OEMs using the technology
OEMs are looking at ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors and win over customers to achieve long-term loyalty towards their brand. For example, Samsung used “Gesture control and touch-less interaction” to market Galaxy S4 as an innovative smartphone, which has helped them lead the charts in smartphone sales across the globe.
Cube26 is playing in the same field and provides the OEMs with features including Look away to Pause (video player that automatically pauses when the user isn’t watching), Auto-call (automatically triggering a phone call when a user brings the phone to his or her ear), and Touch-less Swipe to answer (allowing users to answer their phone without having to touch it).
Earlier this year, Cube26 also released an iOS app which has received more than 150,000 downloads and approximately 3 million registered gestures within the past 4 months.
The road ahead
Completely bootstrapped, Cube26 is working with couple of other bigger OEMs as well; however, these haven’t completely materialised yet. On the product roadmap, Cube26’s technology will use simple hand movements and facial gestures to enable shuffling through music in the media player, flipping through photo galleries, browsing through webpages in browsers and selective access to different user-profiles.