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Wireless economy has new killer apps

india Updated: Sep 13, 2009 20:57 IST
N Madhavan

Forget the drought and the manufacturing downturn for a while. There is one industry which is buzzing so much that a simple bird’s eye of what I have been through in the past weeks is indication enough of its power. This is the wireless services revolution. Don’t yawn. I am not talking about voice and text messages. I am talking about something which is just beginning.

Here are a couple of samples to show how the mobile universe is brimming with possible “killer applications” that benefit consumers on a large scale.

Delhi-based Samriddhi Automations Pvt Ltd has a mobile surveillance product which turns your video-enabled mobile handset into a monitoring device to track your maid or children at home, workers at your office or your shop from anywhere, using a secure closed-circuit Internet interface.

Sanjeev Sehgal, the company’s managing director, says his company has developed technology at a world-leading 15 video frames per second. The system typically includes at least four cameras.

A single-camera system with a digital video recorder card and a licence, now costs a little under Rs 20,000 and will be under Rs 10,000 soon. “Within six months, it will be affordable for everyone,” Sehgal says, adding even a personal computer will not be needed as cameras become advanced. Now, imagine a mother in an office watching her infant live on her handset while the kid plays in a distant crèche.

While that happens, wi-fi, which multiplies the power of wireline broadband by allowing you to roam with your Net-connected laptop in places like cafes or homes, is bouncing up. Wi-fi operates in a roughly 100-metre range on free spectrum. I had breakfast with Selina Lo, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur whose firm, Ruckus Wireless makes advanced versions of boxes that enable wi-fi services.

The big idea I learnt in the meeting was that of the emerging “Wireless ISP (Internet service provider).”

For instance, if you buy a flat, the builder can be your ISP simply by buying himself a wi-fi box and a broadband connection that can be used to turn the entire apartment block into a low-cost wireless cybercafé. I am told this is already happening quietly in Mumbai.