Sunday, January 6, 2019

SMART & FIT : THE NEW INDIAN WAY

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This post is submission towards the contest for #GetFitWithFlipkart and #SmartHomeRevolution, in coordination with Indiblogger and Flipkart.

Welcome to a world with Smart HomeSmart Camera & Smart lights and products - truly Smart Wearable.

(#FlipkartIndia was tagged in Social media posts on Facebook  and Twitter handles of the blog.)

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World Bank - in 2011 - outlined series of research articles featuring 'Health System innovation in India'. The broad theme being impact of innovation in public health. Way back then, the research could not completely envisage the potential of technology in our lives, as it stands today. 
Low internet costs, open-source technologies, standardization of network protocols, low cost and time for processing and higher behavioral elasticity have paved the way for smart homes and smart devices in India. 
Next bout of thrust comes in form of smart cities. In short, supply and demand forces/curves move in the same dynamics, a rare distinction of sorts. This has triggered a need for smart communities, smart homes and smart individuals (individuals accepting smart devices and even literally!). Look even the choice for technology has transformed drastically. Pure play automation to one reliant on ambient/artificial intelligence. Machine to Machine (M2M) interface together with Internet of Things (IoT) has formed the backbone for communication - in smart homes and smart devices alike.


Hard Truth Business Model Innovation
Innovation - Drives the need for smart devices

Consultancy firm Redseer, forecasts that the demand for smart devices - both individual and home - would stand at USD 2.2 bn by end of 2019 ! 

The Indian case stands out more uniquely. A strong inter-relationship built among smart cities, smart communities, smart homes and smart devices. The advent of innovation in the quality of life and functionality has started showing evidence. Instances for implementation of smart products include: solutions to conduct IoT enabled clinical trials in order to evaluate specific outcomes (Pfizer), wearable sensor patches to give insights on health patterns, medication effectiveness (Proteus), Polo shirts that monitor and show heart rate and calories burned during work-outs (Ralph Lauren) and  trial rooms containing virtual and smart mirrors for helping consumers in making the right choice (Rebeccaminkoff).

a.) Need for Smart devices:

i.) Smart Homes:


The need for smart homes in India come primarily from three folds. Security, convenience and energy efficiency.


High crime rates make it inevitable for individual investments in security in India. Technology not only provisions for a new layer of security, it comes with an added advantage - low cost  of implementation and maintenance. Economies of scale is significantly driving the cost southwards for the smart products. Changing customer preferences for monitoring and management of audit logs are other influencers favoring smart homes. High energy costs further drives the need for smart homes in India. Distribution losses in electricity supply and access of electrification are drivers from the supply side. Without surprise, thus, the prospects of growth are phenomenal in this segment.


model of blue electronic house 1083 x 615
Smart homes and smart devices - Integrating in Indian society

ii.) Smart Devices - Personal:


The smart devices segment for fitness can largely be differentiated in two categories. First, urban wellness piece and second, rural public health part. High obesity rates, propensity for cardiac issues in India, pollution levels and ensuring productivity through work-life balance drives the demand in  smart devices for urban wellness segment.

Smart Watches - Multi faceted and empowering !

A major breakthrough - as also latent demand - exist for the smart devices in the public health for rural India. While dismal access rates of medical facilities sets the tone for such demand, low literacy and lack of adequate social insurance further accentuates this need for smart devices in rural India.

b.) Advantages of Technology - Makes it a smart case :


Technology has eased our day to day life drastically, and the biggest breakthrough comes through reduction in cost and efforts. Take the case of the new marketplace created by e-commerce. The availability of a broad product range at favorable price points, that too directly at the doorsteps has redefined the experience. Experts say that it has not only tapped the latent demand, but also gone beyond and created fresh demand in new product segments.

Governance is another major beneficiary. Digitization of the records and public access has ensured transparency - in a big way. Overlapping ICT technologies including biometric recognition has redefined the framework for public governance.

Next is the comfort for public/alternate transport. Secondary access through car rental companies and recharges for the public transport - like Indian Railways  - facilitates a tremendously comfortable travelling process.

The list would be certainly incomplete without mention of accessibility to financial products - payment wallet, instant money transfer - have made life more efficient.

Other major applications of technology includes products that can be customized for security.

c.) Evolution of Technology - Indian life is smarter and better for sure!

Technology has completely transformed the Indian life.

In our case, the daily life has changed completely ever since I wake up in the morning.
Alarm clocks have paved the way for smart watches, thermostat based electric geysers power up the morning showers along with smart speakers that play our favorite playlist, hybrid cars save the fuel during drive for the office, algorithm based lift management ensure optimal utilization of the energy and time, smart lighting in the office, all this - while we wear the little fitness bands in the fist to keep track of our health - is simply amazing.

Vrroom.. As I drive my bike on the way, the smart helmet's bluetooth gives me option to attend urgent calls.


Best smart TV platforms
Smart viewing experience

Come home, and the smart windows keep the street noise at the bay while smart regulators adjust the temperature as we monitor the activities in our absence through smart security devices.
And wait.... all through Smart TV eagerly waits to play our favorite drama which we watch on smart glass through the connecting stick ! The ambient smart lights are aligned just perfectly to our moods. And our pet Smartphone .... has touched and simplified each and every facet of our life.


ALONZO Smart Bluetooth Headset Sunglasses For All SmartPhones
Smart Glasses - Entertainment experience to a new level

My Favorite !

My smartwatch is something which I admire the most. It motivates me to stay fit. I can monitor my physical activities dynamically and calibrate the further need as per deficit/surplus. Goal setting, achievement and adaptability gives me conviction that I'm in complete control of my health. I can't imagine a single day without my personal smart watch.

In short, smart products make me feel more empowered about my life.

d.) Smart Products - Potential for India 

The potential for smart products in India is huge. The youth population base, increasing connectivity penetration, wellness consciousness, disposable income and welfare push from the government augur great times ahead ! Integration of smart devices into our lives has been seamless so far, and whatsoever little traction that existed earlier, has simply evaporated. Two pronged 'Push-Pull' forces for demand and supply would accelerate the growth of smart devices in Indian lives.

Some of the segments where smart products hold immense potential in India are :

i.) Wellness and Health : More fist borne smart watches - that can assess medical parameters round-the-clock, as well as immediately flag outliers - are going to gain acceptance, especially in urban India. Other smart products such as Pocket ECG, gluco-meters are also expected to find favors.

ii.) Tele-Medicine: Smart devices that would aid medical assistance through hub-spoke model are the next big thing in India. Intelligent devices that prepare medical set-up, forward emergency messages to related agencies and flag the need for specialist services basis preliminary diagnosis could be extremely beneficial.

iii.) Smoke Detection: Automated fire detection devices integrated in a grid that can trigger immediate alarms as well as inform gird would befit Indian system to contain fire-related causalities. Other corollary devices towards detection of gas leakage could help in residential and industrial set-ups.

iv.) Automatic illumination in dark alleys: Effective energy management in form of smart devices for automatic illumination of dark alleys can be extremely useful in India. The increased penetration witnessed in addition of the artificial intelligence in the lighting solutions has made strong case for acceptance.

v.) Automated controls - Main Gate: The main gates (or some select gates) in our home can be operated through smart devices - programmable keys, face recognition devices etc.- to ensure security.  The added advantage of prospects of audit logs substantiate such products.

vi.) Smart Irrigation: Smart devices that measure soil humidity and control level of irrigation accordingly can be boon for water management and agricultural production in a water-scarce India.

vii.) Energy management: Effective energy management for cooling levels in refrigeration, de-humidifiers and other appliances, on a standalone basis as well as smart grid can lead to great savings.

viii.) Water Potability: Smart devices that can measure, monitor and manage water purification in homes on the basis of the quality of water-supply can enable wellness and better health, considering high rates of water-borne diseases in India.


GEREE 12V Soil Humidity Sensor Controller Module Automatic Watering Module
Smart sensors to monitor soil humidity


Growth of the smart devices is inevitable in India. Individuals are already empowered by the prevalent smart products and new products would bolster acceptance.


Thus, the new Indian way is being fit - and being fit, the smart way !


Image Source: All Images - Google Images'
Background Reference: http://tec.gov.in/pdf/M2M/M2M_IoT%20Enablement%20in%20Smart%20Homes.pdf 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

TRIP TO TULIP GARDENS, KEUKENHOF, NETHERLANDS | AN EVENT WHERE SPRING MANIFESTS ITSELF.

Keukenhof, the astonishingly beautiful gardens in Netherlands are believed to be as eagerly awaited as the Spring itself !! There are reasons for such an excitement and rightly so. Every year the gardens are welcome thousands of visitors and for good reasons.  One, it is a spectacular treat. Two, it is meticulously designed and executed. Third, it opens for a very small window, i.e. 3 months odd, across the entire year - which merits its coveted attention. Fourth, the event has been performed brilliantly and efficiently year after year which makes it such a craze. Every year, the theme for the flowers is amended,  new additions are made, and public transport adjusts itself which reflects the criticality of the event for the gardens and the country as well. 


Colours and Celebrations - Keunkenof - An event to cherish



Spring at its best - Keukenhof Gardens



The only soul bored at Keukenof


Many people who visit Netherlands simply for Keukenhof and they are absolutely right with their choice. The gardens are a sensual delight and has a fleet of highly trained and professional staff to make your experience special.  
Tulips all the way - Keukenhof Gardens

First things First: Being THE most commercialized garden in the world, it opens for only a very small duration (Mid March- May 2018 and the opening time varies every year). For the rest of the months, preparations are done for the forthcoming year. This means, that not only the beauty of the gardens, but also the window in which it is available, makes it so sought after for the tourists.
Flowers symmetry at the Keukenhof

PS:  It is suggested to check the details of the weather on the Facebook page of the gardens here before you proceed.  


Flowers and Flowers - Spring all the way - Keukenhof Gardens


Keukenhof is situated in Lisse, Netherlands between Hague (Den Haag) and Amsterdam. In fact, it is more close to the Schiphol, the Amsterdam Airport than Amsterdam. There is an excellent public transportation between the Airport and Keukenhof garden. Several employees of the garden are placed who would be more than happy to help you, and also check your tickets well before you board your tickets. In short, you would reach breezily from Schiphol, with some queues. 
Several Hues, Several colours, one result - BLISS ! 


The connections from Hague, via Leiden, are also very good and as always the operations are well coordinated with the help of the support staff of the gardens. 
Ducks highlighting the beauty at Keukenhof
Before you get awed by the clinical design and the layout of the Keukenhof, you may make sure to have a clear idea to how things are spread in the first place. Therefore, it is suggested to have some feel of the place with the free maps, available around the entrance. It's better to take some time to identify the places of interest. There are lakes, bridges, children play area, windmills.... all  inside the Gardens. I'd suggest you to be brisk initially rather than being mesmerized by the sight. There are several themes, and amazing workmanship of creativity and colors that await you.
Keukenof Gardens - Beautiful Flowers and arrangement 

Keukenhof Garden is at best a day trip. People spend from 4-8 hours depending on the interest and fitness level. You can also easily walk around the other Tulip farms that are around. As a region, Lisse is famous for Tulips, and other options around Keukenhof are also beautiful, albeit not as structured. They are beautiful in their own rights and being just 15 minutes walk away, they call for your time.(One of the useful resources here.) The best way would be to move around these farms on a cycle, after ofcourse seeking permission from the owners.   


Spring manifesting itself
  TIPS FOR YOUR PERFECT TRIP :

  1. Scout the weather: It's paramount, trust me a bad weather can be very annoying. One, the blossoms would not be adequate and second it can sap your moods. Here are some resources for tracking the weather.
  2. AVOID Weekends and Public Holidays: I can't stress enough the crowds that would flow on weekends. So much so, that people find even taking a single photograph or using a washroom a challenge. So NO,NO to the weekends. That applies for the general rules for starting early to skip the crowd.
  3. Food: The Food in the restaurant inside the Gardens is Expensive and you are likely to feel cheated for what you pay. Better to carry along snacks.
  4. Water: There are some water fountains around the Garden, where you can refill the empty bottles. Please do that, to avoid exorbitant prices !
  5. Accommodation: If you are travelling only for Keukenhof, then staying around Leiden or Schiphol can be a good option. If you are not in a hurry to take a flight back home, I'd suggest staying at Leiden, because that gives you the flexibility to explore Leiden as well, which is a nice and beautiful university town.
  6. Be Slow and Explore: Many people visit the gardens to check a bucket-list item, only to explore in haste. Go slow, not necessarily where the crowd is heading and enjoy the spectacle.
After all, it is an event where spring manifests itself.
Playful Ducks - In the Lake in the Keukenhof.


Saturday, June 30, 2018

TRIP TO BRUGES. CHRISTMAS IN THE HIDDEN TREASURE OF EUROPE.

Welcome Back ! After a while, there is some action on the Blog! All the more. since I relocated to Luxembourg, Europe. 

So the wait ends. And what a way to end the hiatus, I'm too excited to cover the treasure hunt of one of the most beautiful cities of Europe, Bruges !

Bruges (or Brugge) has a distinct charm

There is a sense of a heavenly charm that you witness as the horse-carts move in their rhythm on the cobbled streets. With Christmas bells floating in the air, the Chocolate in your hand could not taste any better. Welcome to Bruges that is also known as Brugges, which made my Christmas even more special.

Christmas decorations at Bruges

Decorated Christmas Tree

Exquisite lighting of the main square

When I was in Bruges, the air of festivity resonated with the church bells in the festive mood. While Bruges is definitely a place worth visiting across all seasons. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit during fall. The festive mood, traditionally decorated Christmas markets


But let me list down why should Bruges be on Must visit list in Europe. The tips are covered in the later half as well.

WHY BRUGES MUST DEFINITELY FIGURE ON YOUR EUROPE ITINERARY:

  1. Bruges is Unique: Flanders as a region in Belgium has a unique culture, and Bruges belonging to its sub-region, Flemish seems to have been hidden somewhere from the tyrants in the history (and tourists recently). The number of tourists certainly don't do the justice with the potential of Bruges charm.
  2. Bruges is Medieval: For all its modern infrastructure, Bruges takes pride in retaining its medieval charm and trust me it has done astonishingly well. Be it the romantic horse carts taking you across the city, the architecture or the beautiful and immaculately neat cobbled streets, you are sure going to feel transformed.
  3. Locals in Bruges are friendly, welcoming: The locals in Bruges are really warm and welcoming towards tourists. People for sure, would go out of their way to help you. In fact, most Brugians thank tourists for helping their economy and their city be on the tourist map of the world. There are no concerns for hostile stares for encroaching in the locals' private space.
  4. Bruges is NOT similar to Venice: Often people would refer Bruges as the Venice of the North. Or in some way or the other bring a comparison. From my trip to Venice and this time to Bruges, trust me the cities are very different from each other. While there are beautiful canals and water bodies in both the places, in all other senses they are different. (Another post to follow on the subject extensively.) 
  5. English is widely spoken:  Unlike some of the other Belgian cities, there is a wider acceptance to English. Its proximity to UK and the substantial flows of the tourists would make you feel at ease.
  6. Compactness of places of interest: Most of the places to be seen in Bruges are concentrated in the Old city. The locals call the part of the city that is within the walls ! This makes an ideal case to decide and prioritize the places that you want to see without much of stress on the commutation time.
ITINERARY AND PLACES TO VISIT IN BRUGES

Start the trip by exploring Bruges at the night. Dip in the reflections of the falling lights in the Canal water while you decide the places that you want to see the next morning. The calmness and the peace of the night beyond the hustle and bustle of the tourists are accentuated by the incredibly beautifully lit monuments which takes you to another feeling all together.
Well lit canal at night - Bruges


Surreal beauty of the monuments

Luminous monuments with few tourists
'Lake of Love' makes the ideal early morning start on the next day. Several playful ducks and the old world bridges make the setting more than ideal for your wonderful day. One of the bridges on the canal would take you to the Old city. As you pass by several beautifully kept old houses, you can would reach Beguinage.
Early start to our trip

Across the canal in the early morning

Take that !

Lake of Love - Aptly so !

Playful ducks in the Lake of Love

Playful ducks in the Lake of Love

Once you reach, 'Church of the Our Lady' through Memling Museum building, you have the choice to visiting either/all of the three museums viz. Groeninge, Brangwyn or Gruuthuse or reach the core of the Old city attractions, wherein the City Hall, Basilica of the Holy Blood and Old Recorders House are pretty close by. These places call for adequate time you spend in Bruges. Pretty closeby is the Guildhouse of the tanners which is also quite interesting.

Horse cart on the cobbled street - Transformation


Where Horses Drink !

And Horses Feed !

Bruges is Beautiful !

Ducks - Adding romanticism


Meanwhile retour from your trip to the statue of the Simon Stevin and visit the famous attraction Belfry.

Bruges - The best kept secret of Europe
In addition, there are 2 main shopping streets that houses several chocolate shops and a supermarket. You may visit on your way back from the train station. Interestingly, the small streets called 'Meersen' are worth visiting. Away from the tourists, they can really surprise you with their earthenness.
The small streets of Bruges are equally beautiful

Somewhere near the Museum

Earthen charm of  Bruges





Bruges is definitely different from Venice

City Hall of Bruges

City Hall of Bruges !

View from the City Hall
Apart from these attractions, there are few other side visits also possible.
Flags of Bruges - Flying High

Colourful building at the City Hall



Christmas decorations at Bruges

TIPS FOR VISITING BRUGES
  1. Please stay overnight at Bruges. Its morning charm is simply too good to be missed.
  2. Bruges can be easily reached from Brussels. You may check the belgian railways for the connections and their frequency.
  3. While in Bruges, the following side/day trips can be considered from Ghent, Ostend, Antwerp Rotterdam (Netherlands) and Lille (France). 
  4. As the connections among the Belgian cities is very good, even Brussels can be covered as a day trip. However, a day to Brussels would be injustice to things on offer there.
  5. Cycling within the city is often overrated. The cobbled streets on offer are not ideal for the bicycles.
  6. You simply should not miss the Belgian chocolates !
  7. Watch out for the horse carts, there are many of them on the road. Stay careful.
  8. A day trip during spring could be a ride to Zeebrugge beach on bicycle. It is good for Surfing.
  9. Accommodation, in general in the Old city is expensive. In fact I found Airbnb within the old city was also expensive. There are some Hotels and other properties across the canal, and yet quite close to the old city. These are cheaper are quite effective. PS: I stayed in a Hostel and found it quite easy to commute to the old city on feet.
  10. Shopping: Lace works was supposedly a popular artform. You find them everywhere are very highly priced.
  11. Public Transport: The old city is compact so there is no need for the Public transport as such. Most of the attractions are friendly for differently abled as is the case in most European cities.
  12. Food: Expensive at restaurants. But there are several options which are inexpensive and quite good. These includes the famous French fries (which are authentic Belgian!) and waffles. Some good vegan options are De Plaats and Reliva.
SOME USEFUL RESOURCES:
  1. Belgian railways:  http://www.belgianrail.be/en/ 
  2. A nice travel Guide : http://bruges.use-it.travel/ 
Near Bruges Train Station