Mir Abid Hussain, Co-founder, emo2: Betting big on surface computing

By Team YS|17th Feb 2011
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You walk into a restaurant and take your place at a table, which also happens to be a giant touch screen. It plays an introductory video and follows it up an interactive menu, where patrons can check out how the dish looks like and even place the order by simply touching the table-screen. While this does seem like a scene straight out of a sci-fi flick, Mir Abid Hussain assures us that it’s anything but fiction. In fact, if his venture emo2 has its way, you could be experiencing this in India very soon. We at YourStory caught up with the young entrepreneur to find out more about this fascinating business idea.If someone asked you to tell them about emo2 in about three sentences, what would you say?

Simply put, emo2 brings mute surfaces to life! emo2 specializes in hardware and software that enable pervasive human interaction. It specializes in a revolutionary new technology called surface computing - a form of computing that offers “a natural way of interacting with information” as opposed to the traditional user interface.

How is emo2 different from other touch computing platforms?

emo2 is a product of organic evolution. It grew from a simple home project and a quest for something better. emo2 is versatile, easy to deploy (hardware / software solution stack) and built from scratch, keeping in mind seamless delivery of content and services. We have worked hard on our platform strategy and our platform is significantly different from the other touch computing platforms out there.

The fact that our investors backed the project even before the incorporation of the company bears testimony to our competitive edge.

How did the business idea for emo2 come about?

emo2 is the child of our imagination! If you spend a lot of time using computers like we do, you would feel quite fatigued. Azhar, my co-founder and I met in college and felt the same way about computers. We didn’t think that there was nothing natural about the way we interacted with them. We compared computers with cars. In a car, you need to turn on the ignition, hold the clutch, set the gear and step on the accelerator to get it moving. Drawing a parallel, we figured that a user would need to use the mouse, the keyboard, the light pen and many other things to get stuff done on a computer. We desperately wanted to change that.

Soon, we realized that the primary input device that a human being uses (and that a computer needs) is his/her hand, along with the sensory perception of touch. It was then that we decided to build our first touch computer.

We built this prototype for personal use and for about two years, it remained a home project until we met Sameer Guglani from The Morpheus, a YCombinator-style mentor/ venture fund. It was over a conversation with him that emo2, as a business idea, was born.

From that point on, working with readily available material, emo2 made its first working surface computer. This same prototype was showcased at the NASSCOM Product Conclave in 2010 and we were the winners of the Tech Demo Pit Awards.

Tell us about your background.

I have been an entrepreneur all along. I am an engineer and I also hold a MBA. But I’ve always had the urge to do something out of the ordinary. I started my career with a services company, with interests in the web space. And soon, I wanted to do more. Today, it is the passion to create something substantial that drives me.

Where do you see surface computing and emo2 five years from now?

In five years, emo2 will be at the forefront of the surface computing revolution. For emo2, the surface computing revolution has already begun! It is only a matter of time before the rest of the world catches on.

What is emo2's revenue model?

emo2's revenue model is currently based on B2B sales. Targeted sales to businesses in hospitality, travel, healthcare, retail, education and entertainment are the focus.

As an entrepreneur, what are your joys? What are the challenges?

The excitement around touch computing is overwhelming. It is super exciting to watch a bunch of people crowd around our product, trying to touch it. The excitement on each of those faces, gives us an adrenalin rush. The greatest challenge has been in finding the answer to this one question - how does one go about building a surface computing product out of India? Once we had that one figured out, everything else just fell in place.

How big is the emo2 team? Are you looking at hiring?

We are currently a 2 member team. Both Azhar and I are engineers. Currently, we are in the process of expanding our team. If you’re from a Computer Science background, do checkout the career section on emo2.com for more information.

Let us know about your expansion plans.

As far as people are concerned, we are currently looking to hire our core team. From the product point of view, we are focussed on delivering value to the enterprise. We’re concentrating on building a product line designed to do exactly that.

We at YourStory wish this exciting startup all the best. To know more, check out http://www.emo2.com/. Also, do let us know your thoughts about this story. You can write to us at feedback@yourstory.in.

Sriram Mohan | YourStory | 17th February 2011 | Bangalore

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