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Intel India sees rising adoption of internet-based devices here

Bibhu Ranjan Mishra  |  Bengaluru 

Kumud Srinivasan
Kumud Srinivasan

The research and development (R&D) centre of Intel India here, the arm of the California-headquartered information technology (IT) giant, is looking at developing system-on-chips (SoCs), used in the Internet of Things (IoT) devices and wearables.

IoT technology enables device-to-device communication, without human intervention. SoC is an integrated circuit, wherein all components of a computer or electronic system are converged into a single processor.

The centre here is the chip maker's third largest R&D site globally. This step comes in the wake of the Indian IT market showing signs of maturity, backed by government initiatives such as Digital India.

Traditionally, Intel India R&D has been focused on developing software and hardware graphics, and the central processing units for servers. Intel India president Kumud Srinivasan says the focus on these core R&D works would continue. However, the company would also look at developing solutions in the IoT space, to be developed into a product for the India market. And, then be taken to other markets.

"What we expect to be doing in 2015 is to develop the SoCs that go into wearables, develop the SoCs going to IoT devices, and also potentially look at solutions that we could bring into the local market," Srinivasan told Business Standard.

Intel India demonstrated its capability in the IoT space earlier this year. Chief executive Brian Krzanich had demonstrated the reference design of a smart watch at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The smart watch in question is capable of keeping track of several health-related data points such as steps, calories, heart rate, perspiration, skin temperature and sleep habits, among others. It was conceived, designed and developed out of India.

During the CeBIT India conference here, in the second week of this month, Intel India had unveiled a sensing platform as one in sync with its strategy to come out with consumer IoT devices, focusing on local and frugal innovation. The platform can find applications in various industry segments and is a combination of three technologies - a sensing device, a gateway and cloud. The gateway (which can even be your smartphone) essentially aggregates all the data the sensing device collects and send it to the cloud after filtering it. The idea is to collect the data, analyse it and come to a logical conclusion before responding to it.

Intel has already made a product of one such platform, meant for the health care segment, in partnership with a local original equipment manufacturer. It has applications such as measuring glucose levels and ECG, and has a pedometer. Similarly, in the automotive environment, the platform is capable of collecting data about drivers' habits or parameters about a car which could be useful for things like predictive analytics and preventive maintenance.

According to Srinivasan, the acceptance of such innovations in the Indian market is expected to be greater in the future, especially after the government's intent to make Digital India a success. "Digital India is very comprehensive in its scope; that is very encouraging. Solutions like IoT will accelerate the rate of growth here. So, the need, willpower and focus are there. All these put together is making me quite optimistic (about India)," she added.

Gartner, the IT research and advisory firm forecasts that 4.9 billion connected IoT devices will be in use in 2015, up 30 per cent from 2014. And, this is expected to reach 25 billion by 2020, globally.

Intel has around 6,500 employees in India, including that of McAfee, its subsidiary (around 1,500). Almost 70 per cent of these employees in the country are into core R&D work. Intel India is also looking at hiring critical skills from outside, apart from building those internally.

"India, with its growing software community and growing and healthy system integrators' ecosystem, is a great place for R&D operations. While we are already the third most important R&D site for Intel, we see us to becoming stronger and stronger," said Srinivasan.

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First Published: Mon, November 24 2014. 00:45 IST