Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Unity Tech Announces Centre Of Excellence For Industry Solutions, Skills Development IN Partnership With Veative Labs

Unity Technologies, creators of the world’s most popular creation engine which reaches nearly 3 billion devices and powers nearly 2/3rds of all Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) content, today announced a partnership with Veative Labs to launch a Center of Excellence (CoE) at Veative’s India office in Noida (NCR). Together Unity and Veative Labs, the creator of high quality 3D, VR, AR and Mixed Reality (MR) learning content, will employ over 300 full-time skilled resources as it builds the largest content library outside of gaming in offices in India and several other countries.

The CoE will focus on providing immersive technology solutions for academics (school and university education), skill development, vocational training, and enterprise applications for industries such as  defense, tourism, retail, construction and engineering. The center aims at creating an umbrella framework for actions pertaining to 3D/AR/VR and to be a platform for adapting the best practices in the evolving domains.  The centre will bring a better learning experience to Unity developers around the globe with high quality 3D, VR, AR and MR content and teaching tools. The CoE will give a platform to rising developers to connect, collaborate and interact with each other and will be given specialized skills training program.

The CoE will also provide support for local governments toward training and development, testing and certification and help set occupational standards using immersive technologies.
Industry Potential

Unity is uniquely positioned to leverage this opportunity and has been empowering developers globally to create content across domains. Unity mobile developers have generated an estimated $12.4 billion USD in net revenue over the past two years, with 18% of all 2015/16 Worldwide Net Mobile Games Revenue coming from content developed on Unity platforms.

Quentin Staes-Polet, Director South Asia/ANZ, Unity Technologies, said, ‘’Unity is the leading platform for developing a broad range of applications from games to the quickly evolving worlds of virtual and mixed reality production. Veative shares our vision for rapid innovation, and we are excited to partner with them to accelerate creation and continue bridging the gap between a booming industry and qualified developers’’.

Vipin Goyal, Director Strategy & Operations Veative Labs, said, “We are delighted to be a preferred partner with Unity Technologies and launch a Center of Excellence. Industry has a lot of needs and tremendous opportunity to benefit from high end immersive experience using 3D/AR/VR/MR technologies. This is just the beginning of a much bigger journey for us. Veative’s mission is to make a difference in this space and become a leader in providing effective 3D/AR/VR/MR interactive content and solutions to make immersive experience affordable to masses and an integral part of our day to day life.”

Target India Announces Fifth and Largest Cohort for the Target Accelerator Program

Target India today announced the fifth batch and the largest cohort yet for the Target Accelerator Program. Eight startups were selected to develop innovative technology solutions with the potential to enhance guest experiences at Target and in the wider retail industry. These startups will work in the areas of artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision, natural language processing, analytics and digital experiences.

“The Target accelerator’s largest batch yet holds diverse capabilities that can add value to our business and the entire retail sector through cutting-edge technologies such as AI and machine learning,” said Rakesh Mishra, vice president of marketing for Target and the accelerator program’s executive sponsor. “We are fortunate to have the opportunity to tap into the immense innovation potential that exists in India through the Target Accelerator Program.”

The startups selected for the accelerator will go through a rigorous four-month program, wherein they will get to refine their technology offerings and pilot solutions at Target stores or headquarter locations. In addition, during their stint with the accelerator, they will have access to Target business leaders as mentors. The startups will also be provided with legal, financial and talent consulting services based on the need of the startup. At the end of the program, startups will have the opportunity to pitch their products and capabilities to investors and others in Bengaluru’s startup ecosystem, and possibly continue their engagement with Target.

The eight selected for the fifth batch of the accelerator program are:
  • Cogknit has a solution that extracts context from videos and is able to generate a textual play-by-play of the video content.
  • Hyperworks has developed software that integrates with hardware to scan fresh produce using a simple camera.
  • Moonraft is a design consultant with an artificial intelligence-powered shopping assistant in the trial room.
  • Cognitifai is able to perform video analytics on video footage (both live and offline).
  • Light Information Systems has capabilities in natural language processing that can be applied to customer support functions.
  • vPhrase can generate insights in natural language from structured data.
  • Streamoid enables personalized product recommendations and natural language search.
  • enables shopping on social media through hashtags.
Along with external startups, Target also encourages participation from internal teams in the accelerator program. Pal’s Prompt, an affiliate marketing solution for Facebook, was developed by one of our Target India team members and has been selected to be a part of this cohort.

The Target Accelerator Program (TAP) was launched in December 2013. Till date, 22 startups have graduated from the program. The startups work with various internal Target teams including marketing, finance, stores, legal, search engine, merchandising, mobile and digital.

PMU-BIRAC in Partnership with DBT, BMGF and IKP Announce Grand Challenges Explorations India (GCE-India)

The Program Management Unit (PMU) at Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) in partnership with the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, the IKP Knowledge Park and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation , announced the third call for proposals under the Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) - India program.  GCE-India funds exploratory ideas from within India, which create pathways for drug discovery, vaccine development, advancement in health technologies and delivery systems that can be made available to people from all socio-economic strata.

GCE- India is a unique partnership, seeks to fund ideas that have the potential to change the way we deal with key development issues in the country. The program, which is now in its second year has received a tremendous response from innovators and is synonymous with the vision of DBT, BIRAC, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. For the first time since the launch of the program, we have also expanded our focus to include mental health as a key development challenge,”said Dr. Renu Swarup, Senior Advisor, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India and Managing Director, BIRAC.

GCE-India is a search to identify healthcare innovations that will enable the goal of equitable healthcare. The GCE-India initiative mirrors the ‘Grand Challenges Explorations’ program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to address challenges specific to the Indian healthcare ecosystem.

“GCE-India is a revolutionary program which empowers you with the tools, network, and funds, to help you take your idea to the next stage of realization. This partnership is looking for life changing ideas from talented and motivated professionals whose interventions or ideas will contribute to addressing key health challenges in India and improve the lives as all,” said Dr. Shirshendu Mukherjee, Mission Director, PMU-BIRAC.

The program is designed to address issues such as infectious diseases, maternal and child health, family planning, nutrition and mental health. The awardee will be eligible for an award of ₹ 50 Lakh, followed by a prize of ₹ 10 Lakh for completing milestones on schedule.

“GCE-India was created with the goal of fostering entrepreneurship in India. PMU-BIRAC and IKP Knowledge Park will work closely with the chosen candidates to provide them with technical and business strategy advice. The candidates will also gain access to synergistic networks from India and around the world. To be successful, the ideas will have to be novel, sustainable, impactful in society, and accessible and affordable to end users,” said Ms. Deepanwita Chattopadhyay, Chairman & CEO at IKP Knowledge Park.

This Call for Proposals is open to anyone from within India across any discipline - from researchers and faculty in colleges, universities, government laboratories and academic institutions, to start-ups and small and medium enterprises as well as non-profit organizations. Proposals submission will close at by 11:59 pm (IST), August 31, 2017. For information on eligibility, application process and selection criteria, please visit

First-Ever Report on Courageous Leadership Among Successful C-Suite Executives

TodayThoughtWorks, a global software consultancy released a first of its kind report, “The Next Big Disruption: Courageous Executives, revealing what sets top business leaders apart from their competition. The report profiles an elite segment of C-Suite leaders referred to as “Courageous Executives” in the US, the UK, Australia and India and the findings underscore the critical role technology plays in business strategy, from navigating the chaos of digital transformation to how they’re setting their business up for future success. The report also sheds light on the leadership styles of Courageous Executives including their tolerance for risk and failure, their use of customer insights and the ways leaders in all four countries are preparing for the future of work.

This report, developed by ThoughtWorks in partnership with research agency Northstar, features insight from Fortune 100 C-Suite executives who are: advocates for digital transformation; have an active role in directing how technology enables their business; have seen their company’s revenue or profit increase significantly due to a recent technology change; and 85 percent of which self-identified as risk takers.

 “As companies across all industries embrace the changes of our increasingly digital world, we’re seeing leaders at the helm of these companies dive deeper into how technology is implemented and how it works,” said ThoughtWorks President and CEO, Guo Xiao. “I began my time in the industry as a developer, giving me the tools I needed to approach business with a technology first perspective. Executives across the globe are learning that a strong grasp of technology matters and they’re finding ways to adapt. Our findings show that 54 percent of Courageous Executives have developed a deep understanding of technology with a remarkable 57 percent of these leaders reporting having written code,” noted Xiao. "A tenacious commitment to embrace technology is what today sets apart truly Courageous Executives."

On this brand of executives, Sudhir Tiwari, Managing Director, ThoughtWorks, India has this to say, “The Post Digital world, characterized by rapidly shifting competitive forces, in whatever industry we are in, needs courageous leaders. Courageous Executives are those who recognize the world as an amorphous rather than a monolithic crystalline place, needing relentless effort in pulling together, alignment and competencies from previously unthought places. Given little history, the Courageous Executive is a sum-product of Risk, Ambition and Adaptability.”
According to the report, notable themes uniting Courageous Executives include:

Proactive Approach to Technology Changes
According to the report, to keep pace and anticipate future technology shifts, Courageous Executives conduct research, analyze their competitors, troubleshoot tech challenges and hire subject matter experts. A majority of Courageous Executives (65 percent) say that digitizing and adapting to new technology is a top business priority followed by growth. 

Research – 63 percent of leaders do their own research to stay ahead of technology changes. Top trends they’re exploring include security threats; human and machine interaction; new hardware, software and operational platforms; machine learning and artificial intelligence; virtual reality and augmented reality.
 Competitor Analysis – In all four countries, big tech decisions are most often fueled by competition. Asked to identify the largest driver motivating change, 47 percent pointed to their competitors.

Tolerance for Risk and Willingness to Fail
Understanding risks and its impact on ongoing business success is an important characteristic of a Courageous Executive along with the ability to rebound after a perceived failure.

 Appetite for Risk - In fact, 87 percent of all executives agree that taking risks is necessary to achieve goals and maintain a strong competitive advantage with 62 percent pointing to their willingness to take risks their competitors won’t as a key differentiator. 

Failing Well  - Courageous Executives reported their most common reaction to these setbacks was to focus on what went right with the second being to stay as positive as possible. When asked how failure affected their employees, 54 percent globally said that they believed failure made them even more motivated to succeed.

Use of Customer Insights
Throughout the world, courageous leaders recognize the necessity of maintaining a close connection to their customers. 91 percent report that customer input directly informs their strategic decision-making. While there is some agreement as to the best methods for gathering that customer input, there’s still a lack of consensus among executives when it comes to what data they’re collecting and who is assessing the insights. 

 Data Source - Overall, the most common source of insight is customer research, followed by social feeds which are monitored by 68 percent of Australian, 60 percent of UK and Indian and only 38 percent of US leaders. Other ways executives gather information includes using analytics from a content management system or implementing a designated customer insights task force.

Customer Engagement -  Gathering data from multiple sources is universally valued, but 87 percent of executives report having an internal team dedicated to their customers. Additionally, 58 percent of US and 48 percent of Australian executives say they speak to their customers themselves, which is far more than 32 percent in India and 22 percent in the UK.

The Future of Work
Across continents, nearly half of all courageous leaders describe their company culture as “team-first,” meaning they hire primarily for cultural fit, with skills and experience the second consideration. A third define their company as having an “elite” culture, described as hiring only the best to change the world by untested means.

 Subject Matter Experts - An overwhelming majority of Courageous Executives (90 percent) emphasized the importance of key hires, stating that discovering subject matter experts and new talents helps their context and credibility and is crucial to success.

Tech’s Impact - 70 percent believe that replacing white-collar workers with technology is a natural progression and to be expected. To prepare for the potential impact of technology on the workforce, 87 percent of leaders admit to researching new technologies that may help them save on staff costs. 83 percent also agree that they’re preparing for the impact of technology replacing their workers by limiting new hires to reduce ongoing overhead.

MRF Pace Foundation and Cricket Australia Silver Jubilee Celebration

MRF Pace Foundation, India’s premier coaching facility dedicated to pace bowling established by MRF Ltd, India’s No: 1 tyre manufacture is celebrating 25 years of its tie-up with Cricket Australia.

This is a unique partnership which over the last 25 years has benefitted trainees from both the sides. The collaboration started in 1992 when the legendary Australian cricketer Dennis Lillee was the Director of MRF Pace Foundation. It is notable that Glenn McGrath, the current Director, was among the trainees who first visited the Foundation in 1992 in the first batch of the programme.

The arrangement has enabled trainees from Australia to visit the Pace Foundation every year and, similarly, trainees from MRF Pace Foundation get to visit the Australian Academy. As a result of this exchange programme, when the Australian trainees visit the Pace Foundation, they get to play in different climatic conditions and learn to bowl in Indian pitches that are generally dry and with low bounce, which is not conducive for pace bowling.

At times, a full-fledged team with batsmen and spinners from Australia visit Pace Foundation and play some matches to experience what it takes to play cricket in Indian Sub-continental conditions. Many Australian cricketers have benefited from this programme such as Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson and Josh Hazlewood, to name a few.

In return, trainees at Pace Foundation visit the National Cricket Centre, Cricket Australia. In earlier days, they had the opportunity to be a part of the Australian Academy Team and participate in the Emerging Players’ Tournament, which includes teams from South Africa, New Zealand and India. This helped trainees to learn to bowl in different conditions, and in bouncy Australian pitches.

Currently, two of Pace Foundation trainees from India visit the National Cricket Centre in Australia every year, where they get tested for 3D bio-mechanical analysis and get to train and play matches with other trainees. Many Indian cricketers have benefited from this programme such as Zaheer Khan, T Kumaran, and Varun Aaron, to name a few.

Gracing the function to mark the occasion were Mammen, Chairman & Managing Director, MRF Ltd; Mr. Arun Mammen, Vice Chairman &Managing Director MRF Ltd; and Rahul Mammen, Managing Director, MRF Ltd.

Speaking about his association with MRF Pace Foundation, Glenn McGrath, Director, MRF Pace Foundation said, “It is delightful to know that I made it to the Foundation as a trainee in the first batch of this programme. Life has come full circle, where today I am still with the Foundation, not as a trainee but as its Director. It’s a great feeling.”

Speaking about the occasion, Rahul Mammen, Managing Director, MRF Tyres Ltd., said, “We are indeed happy to have this collaboration with Cricket Australia. It’s a great opportunity for trainees from both sides to explore and get experienced playing in varying climatic and surface conditions. Also, it gives us an opportunity to benchmark our training capabilities alongside the training methodologies adopted in Australia. We would be happy to continue this tie-up, which at the end of the day benefits the game of Cricket.”

Akshar Unveils Latest Innovation - Flying Bird Yoga - The Aerial Yoga

Akshar Yoga, the top wellness brand which has earned the distinguished reputation of bringing together tradition and innovation in yoga, is creating yet another milestone in its success story by launching a path breaking yoga format- the Flying Bird Yoga, the Aerial Yoga. The latest form of high impact workout invented by the renowned Yoga innovator and entrepreneur, Grandmaster Akshar, was unveiled in a grand event at its Sadashiv Nagar center. Leading sandalwood actor and ardent yoga enthusiast, Puneet Rajkumar inaugurated the event and presented to the fitness buffs, a revolutionary step through Flying Bird Yoga. Adding to the fitness fervor, Akshar Yoga introduced a range of premium quality hammocks on this to ensure provision of the right medium to practice this innovative form of Yoga on.

Using a hammock to arch, curve, bend, turn and twist one’s body into various Yoga postures, Flying Bird Yoga, as the name suggests, lets one develop the flexibility and freedom of a bird as it takes one through a graceful and memorable workout experience. Quite unique to the composition are the 150 plus signature moves and asanas designed by Grandmaster Akshar, which will let a practitioner fly freely in the air with many acrobatic moves while using the hammock for support, continuously challenging the body’s rhythm.

On the occasion, Grandmaster Akshar, Chairman and Course Director Akshar Yoga said, “Yoga is indeed the most ancient form of exercise invented by mankind. However, the beauty of Yoga lies in its flexibility and versatility.  Flying Bird Yoga utilizes this exceptional quality of yoga to provide one with absolute mind-body-and- soul experience without compromising on its authenticity. We have taken absolute care to incorporate the Make in India aspect in its every element.”

Flying Bird yoga tackles the basic fear in men and women. It offers a range of health benefits including greater flexibility, better focus, strengthened muscles, stress relief etc. A great form of exercise for those who suffer from back pain issues, it helps in increasing strength and flexibility by actually lengthening the spine. Reversing the aging process by mobilizing all the joints in the body, the inversions in the exercise increase the flow of fresh blood to the capillaries in the face thereby leaving you with a glowing skin.

Inspired by ‘Made in India’ concept, Akshar Yoga launched one of the finest range of hammocks that are produced in the country. This superior quality product is created with a medical thought and intent to strengthen the core muscles and flexibility of the body. It has been designed with a nylon fabric and limited stretch ability to ensure the stability of the body and a relaxed experience while practicing Flying Bird Yoga. This versatile product has a high tensile strength of 900mpa and strong capacity of withstanding body weight of up to 200kgs. The hammocks are available in Akshar Yoga schools, and very soon on Amazon, in hues of blue, pink, green, white and black.

Bangalore’s passion for fitness and wellness never slows down. With the country picking up an active lifestyle at an aggressive pace, developing a healthy body is on the top of everyone’s priority list today. The proposition turns out to be doubly sweeter if the workout is uniquely designed to delight ones senses. Flying Bird Yoga’s origin is rooted in this philosophy. Developing coordination and agility through full body zero-compression workouts, these exercises prove to be ultimate healers which effortlessly hones the core muscles.

Akshar Yoga academy has incorporated Flying Bird Yoga as a certificate course and comprises of 3 levels-Mach I, Mach II, Mach IIIThis will be available in the Akshar Yoga centers including Sadashivnagar, Sahakar Nagar, Koramanagala and Basweshwar Nagar, Jayanagar and many more.

AI Technologies Will Be in Almost Every New Software Product by 2020

Market hype and growing interest in artificial intelligence (AI) are pushing established software vendors to introduce AI into their product strategy, creating considerable confusion in the process, according to Gartner, Inc. Analysts predict that by 2020, AI technologies will be virtually pervasive in almost every new software product and service.

 In January 2016, the term artificial intelligence was not in the top 100 search terms on By May 2017, the term ranked at No. 7, indicating the popularity of the topic and interest from Gartner clients in understanding how AI can and should be used as part of their digital business strategy. Gartner predicts that by 2020, AI will be a top five investment priority for more than 30 percent of CIOs.

 "As AI accelerates up the Hype Cycle, many software providers are looking to stake their claim in the biggest gold rush in recent years," said Jim Hare, research vice president at Gartner. "AI offers exciting possibilities, but unfortunately, most vendors are focused on the goal of simply building and marketing an AI-based product rather than first identifying needs, potential uses and the business value to customers."

 AI refers to systems that change behaviors without being explicitly programmed, based on data collected, usage analysis and other observations. While there is a widely held fear that AI will replace humans, the reality is that today's AI and machine learning technologies can and do greatly augment human capabilities. Machines can actually do some things better and faster than humans, once trained; the combination of machines and humans can accomplish more together than separately.

 To successfully exploit the AI opportunity, technology providers need to understand how to respond to three key issues:
 1)      Lack of differentiation is creating confusion and delaying purchase decisions
The huge increase in startups and established vendors all claiming to offer AI products without any real differentiation is confusing buyers. More than 1,000 vendors with applications and platforms describe themselves as AI vendors, or say they employ AI in their products.
Similar to greenwashing, in which companies exaggerate the environmental-friendliness of their products or practices for business benefit, many technology vendors are now "AI washing" by applying the AI label a little too indiscriminately, according to Gartner. This widespread use of "AI washing" is already having real consequences for investment in the technology.

 To build trust with end-user organizations vendors should focus on building a collection of case studies with quantifiable results achieved using AI.

 "Use the term 'AI' wisely in your sales and marketing materials," Hare said. "Be clear what differentiates your AI offering and what problem it solves."

 2)      Proven, less complex machine-learning capabilities can address many end-user needs
Advancements in AI, such as deep learning, are getting a lot of buzz but are obfuscating the value of more straightforward, proven approaches. Gartner recommends that vendors use the simplest approach that can do the job over cutting-edge AI techniques.

3)      Organizations lack the skills to evaluate, build and deploy AI solutions
More than half the respondents to Gartner's 2017 AI development strategies survey* indicated that the lack of necessary staff skills was the top challenge to adopting AI in their organization.

The survey found organizations are currently seeking AI solutions that can improve decision making and process automation. If they had a choice, most organizations would prefer to buy embedded or packaged AI solutions rather than trying to build a custom solution.

"Software vendors need to focus on offering solutions to business problems rather than just cutting-edge technology," said Mr. Hare. "Highlight how your AI solution helps address the skills shortage and how it can deliver value faster than trying to build a custom AI solution in-house."

Infosys Strengthens Environmental Sustainability Initiatives at its Chandigarh Campus

Infosys recently launched its 10th Sustainability Report highlighting the various responsible business practices undertaken by the company across economic, social and environmental parameters, in accordance with the Global Reporting initiative G4 (comprehensive) guidelines. In line with its sustainability policy, Infosys has focused its efforts on enhancing environmental performance by improving energy efficiency, becoming water sustainable, minimizing waste-to-landfills, increasing the use of renewable energy, reducing carbon footprint and contribution to biodiversity.

Some of the key initiatives that were undertaken at its Chandigarh campus are as follows:
·         Energy: Infosys has implemented smart parking management in its Chandigarh campus to reduce the numbers of cars congesting the streets and the emission caused.
·         Renewable Energy: In order to reduce carbon footprint, Infosys has invested in various energy efficiency measures including lighting, UPS, building management systems, smart retrofit programs across various campuses, including Chandigarh. The company also installed 15.2 MW solar capacity (rooftop + ground-mount) across India since 2009. Chandigarh contributes 202 (kW) of installed capacity.
·         Food waste Management: To address waste management in an integrated manner, the company has 3.1 TPD installed capacity of composting plants in different campuses including Chandigarh.

Moving into the new fiscal, the company will continue to innovate and nurture new ideas that has the potential to tackle the environmental challenges of today and the future.

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