Having succeeded in designing and engineering smartphones in India Sachin Tendulkar-backed Smartron now aims to leverage IoT and build smart homes.
Mahesh Lingareddy wanted to build a brand that was ‘designed and engineered’ in India, but recognised and respected globally. With this thought, he founded Smartron in August 2014, and three years later, the company claims to have over 50 patents, and is investing in a variety of smart, sensor, robotics, big data, artificial intelligence and UI/UX technologies.
In an interview with YourStory, Mahesh said the company has clocked sales worth Rs 50 crore, in the 18 months that it has been retailing its consumer devices. The company’s product portfolio includes Smartron Tbook, Tphone and srt phone, which are sold only through an online strategy. What sets Smartron apart is that it is backed by none other than cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar as an investor.
Mahesh recently spoke at YourStory’s flagship event TechSparks about the need for more global brands out of India, and what Smartron was looking to do in the future. Some highlights.
Global Indian brands
If one considered the list of the 100 most valuable companies in the world, no Indian company was on the list, said Mahesh. China, on the other hand, had several. It was only a few decades ago that India and China were growing at a similar pace, and now China’s GDP has surged 5x. India also lags behind on patents applications filed.
“Why are there no Indian global brands?” Only Tata from India has made it to the list of top 50 brands across the world, Mahesh said. While Indian companies like Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro, Flipkart and Paytm are known globally, Mahesh said he aspires for a product-based company to grow out of India. He said,
“There is lack of product ecosystem in India. We need to move from services mindset to product mindset and create a product ecosystem. Brands have the advantage of creating disproportionate value.”
Mahesh believes there is an opportunity to innovate in both hardware and software sectors, and also believes technologies like Internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) give India a tremendous opportunity, a chance to level the playing field.
Smartron - from smartphones to smart homes
Smartron recently announced its plans to introduce the newly-launched Qualcomm Mesh Networking platform for loT connected devices for the Indian market. With this association, Smartron and Qualcomm Technologies aim to build an ecosystem of connected devices and services suited for the Indian smart home.
With rapid urbanisation, growing aspirational middle class, and increasing per-capita incomes, Smartron believes the smart home market in India is not just a reality, but an affordable one now. Mahesh said this scenario presents an opportunity for Smartron to build a scalable product ecosystem for smart home solutions that will cater to local consumer needs and infrastructure requirements.
Smartron recently unveiled tronX, an intelligent and assistive AI + IoT platform that connects a range of devices, sensors and systems to a core to offer personalised experiences, services and care to consumers across personal, home, health and infra verticals.
The company unveiled four verticals that are in the works at its R&D facility, and have built in capabilities that integrate in our lives which include -
- tronX Personal which will offer personalised and localised entertainment, travel, shopping, financial, health, event, communication and collaboration experiences across devices.
- tronX Health where the operating system monitors and manages medical history, insurance data and offers intuitive and preventive solutions from a range of partners who are already on board.
- tronX Home which will control locking mechanisms, security updates, home appliances, services like water, electricity and payment modules for these services through a Voice Activated Assistant.
- tronX Infra which is a B2B vertical that offers an AI-assisted system that covers a range of monitoring and management services like Building management system, security, lighting, climate control, tracking and connectivity for buildings, retail, warehouses, cold storage, trucking, logistics etc. The solution is currently being run as pilot programmes with a number of corporate establishments and the goal is to help increase productivity and security.
Mahesh said Smartron is building for a world where everything is interconnected, and all devices can ‘talk’ to each other to help one lead a smarter life.
For example, an alarm clock that wakes one up earlier if the phone foresees traffic through maps; or a geyser that is switched on as soon as one wakes up; milk delivery notifications; or systems that read out schedules and book taxis, fix appointments for health checkups and even a retail store that recognises facial features and suggests a shopping list based on past preferences and what is already stocked in the fridge.
Mahesh said that with tronX and Smartron's home built Natural Language Processing capabilities, the company is looking to enhance voice control experiences to a host of Indian languages and accents.
The company is collaborating with the University of Southern California's Center for Human Applied Reasoning and the Internet of Things (CHARIOT) to research personalised education using wearable devices and and machine learning technologies.
While the company will look to launch its own devices and products that run with tronX at the core, Smartron is also keen on working with partners, companies and teams to bring in a larger set of devices that can be integrated with its technology platform. To this end, Smartron is also opening up its backend API to other startups that are developing niche solutions that can be integrated into a larger platform for a mass audience.