True innovation in a dark world

A few things that show how technology is really meant to make our lives better

brunch Updated: Aug 26, 2017 21:55 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times
Innovations,VoxWeb,Kotak Mahindra
Innovations like VoxWeb, Philips Hue and the 811 digital savings bank app from Kotak Mahindra reveal that the tech world is not so dark after all(Photo Imaging: Parth Garg)

Tech seems to have generated a lot of bad press lately. The Blue Whale game (come, kill yourselves) has seemingly spawned a dozen more copycat challenges. Sarahah (anonymous trolling app) has become a runaway success for ruthless online bashing. And the all-new Hot Water Challenge (throw boiling hot water on yourself, or an unsuspecting victim, or drink it with a straw while its still boiling) has had multiple users ending up with horrendous results. You may be thinking that tech is now all about self-destruction, body mutilation and seeking barbaric anonymous trolling. But, that would be wrong. In the last week, I’ve discovered these three truly innovative pieces of technology that have made my tech heart sing.

Philips hue white ambiance

Customise your home lighting with automated controls from Philips Hue White

I’ve been using Philips Hue Smart Bulbs at my place of work. When they came out with the Hue White Bulbs, I finally took the plunge for my home too. And, it’s the built-in technology that amazes me. First, the super techie gee-whiz parts – control these bulbs with an app or voice commands (Siri, Google, Amazon Alexa), set up moods or themes on the fly, use the bulbs as a security system (out on a holiday, your room lights will come on automatically signalling there is someone at home) and use the battery-powered dimmers for those that hate using phone apps. But, the Hue White is a different ball game. With 50,000 shades of white, you can use them for various stages of your day. It can mimic a sunrise and help you wake up naturally without an alarm, and offer different levels of light for the gym or the children’s study room. Or, slow it all with a relaxing warm white light. All this automated as per a time schedule or controlled by your voice.

VoxWeb

All your pics can have a witty voice message in the language you speak

Mark my words. This could be the next big Instagram and Facebook put together. The premise is simple. VoxWeb is about posting pictures and then adding a voice note to it (11 seconds). What’s the main reason that people avoid posting pictures or even a message? Most people find it difficult to express themselves with the written word. The other is language. Tech has taken us to the next level, but only for those that read and write English. How many Instagram posts have you seen in Hindi or any other local language? VoxWeb solves it all. A picture of a holiday abroad, a birthday party, a quick wish for a friend who is unwell, a group selfie – each can have a witty little voice note in the language we all speak. I’ve seen some of the most innovative ways of messaging coming from this platform. Once you’ve used a voice note on VoxWeb, typing a tagline for a picture seems old school. It’s available for iOS and Android. The company behind VoxWeb is also on a roll and has just got some serious funding. Remember, a picture maybe worth a thousand words but a picture with a voice note is obviously worth millions :)

811 Kotak Mahindra digital savings bank account

The 811 savings bank account from Kotak Mahindra takes banking to the next generation

The challenge is simple. In less than five minutes, without leaving your home or office and with zero paperwork, you can open a savings bank account and get a virtual debit card. Sounds like a typical marketing line from any bank. Well, 811 by Kotak actually works. It took me less than three minutes actually. An Aadhaar and PAN number is pretty much all you need and the rest moves at the speed of light. I had a fully operational, ready to transact with a debit card account working for me in those 180 seconds. Besides getting the savings bank account going, it’s the rest of what the app does that makes it a real gem. It’s a multitasker with more than 100 features built within. You can shop online, buy tickets for movies or air travel, transfer funds and recharge your mobile and DTH connection – all without leaving the app or opening another one. This is banking for the next generation.

At a time when most people seem to be painting tech as the greatest villain, it’s products like these that show that its not all dark and desolate. Time for tech to shine through all this noise and horror. Let there be light.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch, August 27, 2017

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First Published: Aug 26, 2017 21:55 IST