Google introduces Family Link, its own parental control software for Android

Google has just one-upped Apple on mobile in a significant way: today the company today announced the launch of Family Link, an application for parents that lets them establish a child’s first Google account, as well as utilize a series of  parental controls to manage and track screen time, daily limits, device “bedtimes,” and which apps kids can use.

While all the major mobile device providers – Apple, Google, and Amazon included – offer parental controls on their devices –  Family Link is different because it’s a two-party system. Instead, it works more like the third-party parental control and monitoring software already on the market, where an app installed on a parent’s device is used to configure settings and keep an eye on kids’ digital behavior.

For the system to work, Family Link requires that both parent and child use Android. The parent will first download the Family Link mobile app to their own device, running Android KitKat (4.4) or higher. An iOS version is not yet available, says Google.

From this app, parents will set up the child’s Google account. It’s designed to be used for those children under the age of 13, Google notes.

Then, on the kid’s device, the child signs in using these new credentials. The child’s phone or tablet must be running either Android Nougat (7.0), or a supported device running Marshmallow (6.1). (A full list is here in the Family Link FAQ.)

Once signed in, the child’s phone usage is tracked and logged, so parents can see how much time kids spend in various apps, via weekly and monthly activity reports. From the parent’s app, moms and dads can set a number of rules for their kids, including how long kids are allowed to be on their mobile devices every day, at what time the devices can no longer be used that day (through a remote locking feature), and which apps can be installed.

Parents can approve or block apps the child wants to download from the Google Play Store, much like how Apple’s iCloud Family Sharing’s “Ask” feature works today.

Like Apple, Google doesn’t offer any suggestions as to whether a given app should be approved, however – that decision is left up to the parents’ discretion.

Explains Google:

“[Family Link] can’t make the apps or services on their phone that were designed for adults kid-safe; it’s up to parents to choose what’s right for their kid.”

A lack of guidance is one of the gaping holes with many parental control systems today. That’s unfortunate given that all the app stores have app ratings. It seems that simply highlighting the rating to parents during the “Ask” process could go a long way to helping parents make better decisions.

That being said, Family Link does allow parents to at least remotely configure the filtering options for some of Google’s own apps, like the Google Search app and the Chrome browser. This will protect kids from adult content and other inappropriate material when doing web searches.

Plus, having standalone application that lets parents remotely configure a variety of control mechanisms for children’s devices will be generally helpful, and could become a selling point for Android phones and tablets.

Family Link isn’t yet broadly available. Google is offering early access to testers willing to try the service during this early preview, and provide feedback.

14 ‘Intel India Maker Lab’ Startups Demo Products, Solutions

14 Intel India Maker Lab-Incubated Startups Showcase Products, Solutions

Intel India on Wednesday hosted its first “Maker Lab Startup Conclave and Demo Showcase” at its campus here where 14 startups from the first batch of “Intel India Maker Lab” showcased their products and solutions.

Set up a year ago, the ‘Intel India Maker Lab’ is helping startups accelerate their hardware and systems innovation towards creation of new products and solutions by offering infrastructure, technology, tools and mentorship support, the company said in a statement.

The startups utilised “Intel India Maker Lab” facilities in the areas of education, sports, health, agriculture, Banking, Financial services and Insurance (BFSI), e-governance, Internet of Things (IOT), Cloud and Client Compute.

“With over 15 years of relentless commitment to research and development, we continue to build a community of innovators in India,” said Nivruti Rai, General Manager, Intel India and Vice President, Platform Engineering Group, Intel Corp.

The “Intel India Maker Lab” supported seven startups that came out from the Department of Science & Technology (DST)-Intel “Innovate For Digital India” Challenge.

The startups that showcased their products and solutions are: Aerx Labs, Avench, Green Ocean Research, Jayalaxmi Agrotech, Klassik Klonec, Parkzap, Skylark Drones, Smartron, Terrablue XT, Acceleron Lab, BrownLogic, Phoenix Robotics, SrishtiESDM and Yaw software.

 

Google Gets Serious About Cloud Services

Google, which lags far behind Amazon and Microsoft in the cloud infrastructure services space, last week released a slew of machine learning and analytics products and services.

The Cloud Machine Learning platform provides access through REST APIs to the technologies powering Google Now, Google Photos and voice recognition in Google Search.

The tools are designed to let users build predictive analytics models with their own training data through the open source TensorFlow machine learning library.

Cloud Machine Learning will take care of everything from data ingestion to prediction, Google said.

It is well integrated with other Google Cloud Platform products such as Cloud Dataflow, BigQuery, Cloud Dataproc, Cloud Storage and Cloud Datalab, the company said.

More About the Tools

Google also released a full set of APIs that let apps see, hear and translate.

It added new services and capabilities to Cloud Dataproc, its managed Apache Hadoop and Apache Spark service.

    The company also added the following features to its BigQuery analytics data warehouse:

  • Long Term Storage, which automatically cuts the price of storage 50 percent after 90 days;
  • Capacitor storage engine, which accelerates many queries by up to 10x;
  • Poseidon, a mechanism that improves data ingest and export speed 5x;
  • Direct query and import of Apache AVRO files;
  • Automatic schema detection of JSON and CSV files; and
  • Public Datasets Program, which lets users host, share and analyze public data sets.

Automatic Table Partitions, which lets users partition tables by date and query the date ranges they want, will be added to BigQuery soon, Google said.

All of the features will be sent to users automatically without any upgrades or downtime.

Google is continuing to develop its Tensor machine learning system. TensorFlow Serving can be used with Kubernetes, another Google open source project, to scale and serve machine learning models.

Apache Beam, a new project on the Apache Incubator, lets users define data processing pipelines that can execute in either streaming or batch mode. It consists of a dataflow model, SDKs and runners submitted by Google and partners Cloudera, Talend and Data Artisans.

The Google Cloud Vision API has entered beta and is available to anyone.

Getting its Act in Gear

Amazon Web Services had 31 percent of the global cloud infrastructure services market in 2015, according to Synergy Research. Microsoft came in second with 9 percent, followed by IBM with 7 percent, and Google with 4 percent.

“Finally, Google’s taking the enterprise battle for the cloud seriously, and it’s not too late to compete,” said Al Hilwa, a research program director at IDCSeattle.

“AWS and [Microsoft] Azure have been more enterprise focused and have garnered early leadership,” he told the E-Commerce Times, but “the situation is fluid, and it’s definitely early days.”

However, Google’s efforts come five years too late, noted Trip Chowdhry, managing director at Global Equities Research.

“Both AWS and Azure are miles ahead, and Google will be in perpetual catchup” mode, he told the E-Commerce Times. “It’s all song and dance, announce and forget, as Google has been doing since 2011.”

The Features That Really Rock

“The machine learning platform and TensorFlow, in particular, have the most potential to bring about significant change in the computing world,” noted Carl Brooks, an analyst at 451 Research. “There are extraordinary insights to be gained from playing with data tensors, and Google is making it very easy to do so.”

The major commercial application of this kind of machine learning is advertising, “and Google’s got that locked up,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “But the potential is vast: weather, traffic, populations, scientific exploration — you name it.”

The Public Datasets platform is interesting because “if enough of these open databases eventually are added to the platform, it would be a significant hub of undiscovered information,” Brooks said.

The focus on maturing platform technologies such as Node.js, Kubernetes, machine learning, DataFlow and “many new capabilities being added to support developers who are demanding DevOps capabilities embedded in every feature,” Hilwa said, are the biggest indicators in Google’s announcement of how seriously it is taking the battle for enterprise cloud services.

FCC Privacy Proposal Troubles Broadband Internet Providers

fcc-privacy-internet-service-providers

Broadband Internet service providers are wary of a government plan to impose consumer privacy protection regulations on the sector.

The Federal Communications Commission likely will issue the proposed regulations by Friday. It will accept public comment on the proposal before taking final action.

The program would require ISPs to meet consumer privacy protection standards similar to the regulations that cover telephone service companies. ISPs currently are exempt from such requirements.

“The information collected by the phone company about your telephone usage has long been protected information. FCC regulations currently limit your phone company’s ability to repurpose and resell what it learns about your phone activity without your consent. The same should be true for information collected by your ISP,” FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said at a recent Georgetown University conference.

While consumers generally are aware that social media and website hosts collect a wealth of personal data from users and visitors, few are aware that the vehicle for such contacts — the ISPs — also track personal information, he said.

FCC Reveals Ability to Collect Consumer Data

“Your ISP handles all of your network traffic. That means it has a broad view of all of your unencrypted online activity — when you are online, the websites you visit, and the apps you use,” Wheeler said.

“If you have a mobile device, your provider can track your physical location. Even when data is encrypted, your broadband provider can piece together significant amounts of information about you — including private information such as a chronic medical condition or financial problems — based on your online activity,” he added.

The regulations would address the use and protection of consumer data generated through ISP operations, according to a draft of the proposal.

  • Privacy: ISPs would retain the authority to use customer data for billing and marketing their own broadband services. However, the proposed rules “mandate that customers be given a choice as to whether an ISP can use customer data for other purposes,” according to a summary of the draft compiled by Dee Dee Fischer, a partner at Akerman.For example, customers will have the right to opt out of permitting ISPs to use their data for marketing services other than broadband, or sharing data for marketing purposes with affiliates that provide communication services. Additionally, ISPs would be prohibited from sharing customer data for any other purpose, such as targeted advertising, unless the customer opts in, according to the summary.
  • Security: The FCC program will impose “robust and flexible data security requirements” on broadband providers, Fischer noted. ISPs will be required to take reasonable steps to safeguard customer information from unauthorized use or disclosure, including adoption of risk management practices, training of personnel, and use of customer authentication measures. ISPs must designate a senior manager for data security and take responsibility for the use and protection of customer information when shared with third parties. Breaches would have to be reported to consumers and the government within certain time frames.

“These new rules, if passed into law, will represent the first time that the FCC has imposed data privacy rules on ISPs, and would constitute some of the strongest privacy regulations of any segment of the technology and telecommunications industry,” Fischer said.

The regulations would affect a wide range of broadband companies, including AT&T, Comcast, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable and Verizon.

Operators Challenge FCC Authority

Permanent adoption of the FCC proposal could face significant legal hurdles, however. A key factor is whether the commission has the legal authority to regulate ISPs at all.

In 2015, it decided to classify ISPs as telecommunications entities subject to the same type of regulation as telephone utilities. That empowered the commission to issue the proposed privacy regulations for ISPs.

Broadband operators challenged the decision in a case pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Colombia. They contend that under the Telecommunications Act, ISPs are information services and as such cannot be regulated in the same fashion as telecommunications providers.

The technology and engineering associated with ISP connections is inherently different from the direct service to consumers provided by regulated telephone utilities, the ISPs argue. The FCC’s jurisdiction extends only to telephone utility data defined by law as consumer proprietary network information and does not cover the tiered ISP structure enabled by router-based connectivity.

ISPs Favor Flexible Regulation

Even if the FCC prevails and retains regulatory jurisdiction over ISPs, members of the broadband community have taken issue with its approach to regulating ISPs.

The rules for ISPs are at odds with the requirements for other online entities, according to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. The FCC should work to ensure consistency in consumer privacy protection and fair competition.

The commission should embrace the approach taken by the Federal Trade Commission, which protects consumers while allowing IT providers flexibility in meeting privacy goals, CTIA urged. The FTC focuses on potentially deceptive activities by e-commerce providers in failing to inform consumers of privacy impacts, as well as prosecuting unfair practices in the delivery of services.

“There should be one set of rules that cover wireless operators, apps and over-the-top providers so that consumers know what, if anything, is happening to their information, regardless of which company holds it,” said Debbie Matties, vice president for privacy at CTIA.

“If the FCC does have jurisdiction over this issue, it should follow the FTC model that has resulted in innovation throughout the Internet while protecting consumers. Establishing a different set of rules for a limited subset of the industry will only confuse customers,” she told the E-Commerce Times.

Consumer advocates strongly endorse the proposal.

“The FCC is not just legally authorized to take action — it is imperative for the agency to issue a broad rule-making that addresses the full range of communications privacy issues facing U.S. consumers,” said Claire Gartland, consumer protection counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

“Because the U.S. currently lacks comprehensive privacy legislation or an agency dedicated to privacy protection, there are very few legal constraints on business practices that impact the privacy of American consumers. The FCC has the opportunity to fill this void,” she told the E-Commerce Times.

Groups Cite FCC Powers

Unlike the FCC, the FTC does not have rule-making authority to issue regulations on e-commerce, except in limited circumstances, Gartland noted.

“Fundamentally, the FTC is not a data protection agency. Without regulatory authority, the FTC is limited to reactive, after-the-fact enforcement actions that largely focus on whether companies honored their own privacy promises,” she said.

“Broadband Internet access system providers act as critical gatekeepers in the broadband ecosystem, and their data collection is detailed and captures much of a consumer’s online activity. Therefore, the FCC’s proposed actions are important, and it is good to see the FCC seize this rare and important opportunity to protect the privacy of broadband consumers,” said Katharina Kopp, director of privacy and data at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

“CDT believes that promoting innovation is not incompatible with protecting the fundamental right to privacy,” she told the E-Commerce Times. “Giving individuals the opportunity to affirmatively consent to uses of their broadband data for purposes unrelated to providing communications services is fair and will give them some much needed control. This will build trust in the process, in the economic marketplace and in further innovation.”

FCC Commissioner Sounds Alarm Over Netflix Throttling

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly on Tuesday suggested the government should investigate Netflix’s practice of throttling video content delivery to customers using mobile devices.

“Netflix has attempted to paint a picture of altruism whereby it virtuously sought to save these consumers from bumping up against or exceeding their data caps,” he told an audience at the American Action Forum. “There is no way to sugarcoat it: The news is deeply disturbing and justly generates calls for government — and maybe even congressional — investigation.”

However, Netflix’s video throttling was not a violation of the FCC’s Net neutrality rules, O’Rielly also said.

Netflix last week announced plans to offer a data saver feature for mobile apps beginning in May.

The company, a proponent of Net neutrality, admitted that it secretly throttled back the speed of its video service to customers of Verizon and AT&T, without disclosing the policy to the mobile carriers or its own customers, The Wall Street Journal disclosed. The news came after T-Mobile CEO John Legere accused the two rival carriers of throttling back their speeds, without knowing that Netflix was doing the throttling.

Netflix generally has been against restrictive data caps, which it considers bad for consumers and the Internet in general, but it set it a default rate at 600 kilobits per second as a way to strike a balance between a quality video experience and excessive charges from mobile carriers for its customers, according to spokesperson Anne Marie Squeo.

Customers don’t need the same resolution on phones as they do on large-screen televisions, she noted. “However, we recognize some members may be less sensitive to data caps or subscribe to mobile data plans from carriers that don’t levy penalties for exceeding caps.”

The company wants to give its customers a choice, Squeo added.

Calls for Probe

The American Cable Association last week called on the Federal Communications Commission to launch an investigation into the practices of edge providers.

“ACA has said all along that the Federal Communications Commission’s approach to Net neutrality is horribly one-sided and unfair because it leaves consumers unprotected from the actions of edge providers that block and throttle lawful traffic,” ACA President Matthew Polka said.

“While we’re disappointed to hear that Netflix has been throttling its videos for AT&T and Verizon customers, I think it’s important to realize that this wasn’t a violation of Net neutrality, since it was the edge provider itself who made the decision to throttle its own traffic,” said Jeremy Gillula, staff technologist at theElectronic Frontier Foundation.

Netflix should have disclosed its policy sooner, he told the E-Commerce Times, adding that all companies should be transparent with their customers.

Don’t Conflate the Issues

Critics of the Netflix policy are “blowing this out of proportion in some ways” because the real threat is from Internet service providers coming between a provider like Netflix and its customers, said Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

“In this case, Netflix is making choices regarding its own customers and is not impacting any other business,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “So I was not upset or worried in learning that Netflix is doing this.”

If AT&T didn’t have such “perniciously low monthly bandwidth caps,” it wouldn’t be an issue, Mitchell noted.

The Federal Trade Commission might want to look into the policy, but it does not violate Net neutrality, according to Josh Stager, policy counsel at the Open Technology Institute. Unlike content providers such as Netflix, ISPs manage last-mile access for customers and therefore have more control over whether a customer can access broadband as well as the quality of the feed.

Netflix’s intent was to be pro-customer, but the net impact is the same as if an ISP throttled speeds, resulting in customers watching degraded video, said Greg Ireland, research director of multiscreen video at IDC.

“Having a bandwidth usage/video-quality setting that puts power in the hands of customers, coupled with a highly visible recommendation to consumers to check bandwidth caps and usage limits, to me, is the right approach,” he told the E-Commerce Times

Amazon, for example, offers a download-quality option for Prime Video that’s designed to deal with storage constraints, Ireland said, but it puts the power in the hands of customers to manage bandwidth utilization.

For Many Users, Instagram Algorithm Is Not a Pretty Picture

Instagram on Monday moved to calm concerns among some users about a proposed change in the way content appears in their feeds.

Celebrities such as Kylie Jenner and Cindy Crawford fueled the anxiety by urging their followers to enable a feature on their mobile devices that would notify them whenever those celebrities post to Instagram.

“A lot of accounts began posting pictures and saying, ‘You may not be able to see pictures like this anymore unless you turn on notifications,'” said Jan Dawson, chief analyst with Jackdaw Research.

“It was an overreaction to something that wasn’t even happening,”.

Instagram assured users that nothing was changing with their feeds yet and promised to notify them when the changes roll out broadly.

Change Proposed

What’s bugging some Instagram users is a proposed change in how the service sorts content sent to their feeds. Instead of content appearing chronologically, user preferences, based on an algorithm devised by Instagram, would determine placement of content.

People miss on average 70 percent of their feeds, Instagram said earlier this month.

The company’s growth has made it harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share, so users often don’t see the posts that are most important to them, it said.

To improve the experience, the order of photos and videos in users’ feeds will be based on the likelihood that they will be interested in the content, their relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post, Instagram said.

All posts will still be available but in a different order, it added.

Mixed Reactions

A petition to “Keep Instagram Chronological” had garnered more than 330,000 signatures as of Wednesday.

“If you do not want your feed to be presented in an order that you don’t have any control over and would prefer to have it presented in the current chronological format or — at least — have the choice to sort your feed the way you want, please sign the petition,” Sarah Heard, the petition’s author, wrote at Change.org.

Power users of the service also have shown concern over the proposed change, according to Andreas Scherer, managing partner with Salto Partners.

“They’ve urged their followers to turn on notifications so that their updates are not missed,”.

“Essentially, anytime this Instagram celebrity would post a picture, the followers will get pinged on their phone,” Scherer said. “It’s easy to see that even the most enthusiastic Instagram users will get turned off by this very quickly.”

Advertising Play

A similar change adopted by Instagram’s parent, Facebook, ultimately had an impact on advertisers.

In order to achieve more favorable placement, companies were required to purchase Facebook’s advertising services, Pund-IT Principal Analyst Charles King explained.

“Companies that depend on Instagram to drive recognition and revenues will be hard-pressed not to buy in,”.

“After what happened when Facebook switched to algorithm-based feeds, it’s certainly not something that small business’ will want!” wrote petition author Heard.

Just as the proposed change is supposed to put more desirable content in front of user eyeballs, it may do the same for advertising.

“Instagram will be able to give high-quality, targeted advertising to its users,” said Elizabeth Lampert, president of Elizabeth Lampert PR.

“The revenue from ads is definitely one plausible explanation for building the algorithm,”.

Tempest in a Teapot

“Instagram has become a major social network and publicity opportunity for some of its most famous users,” said Ross Rubin, senior director for industry analysis at App Annie.

“Whenever you have an app that has attracted a huge following, it’s virtually impossible to make a change without drawing the ire of some users,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Instagram is seeing the same kind of reactions that have followed proposed changes to Facebook and Twitter.”

Some members of the Instagram community may be overreacting to the proposed changes, Salto’s Scherer maintained.

“It’s safe to assume that celebrity updates will still be relevant in a person’s timeline with or without notifications turned on,” he said. “Moreover, it is safe to assume that this topic will be dropped quickly as the Instagram users adjust to the new timeline algorithm.”

At any rate, users will have lots of time to adjust to the new regime. “This will take months and weeks to test,” Lambert said, “so there is no need to panic.”

MIT unlocks the secret to safer, tighter, stronger Wi-Fi

MIT unlocks the secret to safer, tighter, stronger Wi-Fi

MIT researchers are working on a new wireless system that allows Wi-Fi signals to pinpoint a user’s location, which could unlock Wi-Fi geo-fencing capabilities and even lead to safer drones.

Under the new wireless project, dubbed Chronos, a team of researchers from the university’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have presented a new system where Wi-Fi signals locate a user rather than a user’s device attempting to find an open network to connect to.

The system can locate users to within “tens of centimeters” by determining the time and distance (or “time of flight”) it takes for the Wi-Fi signal to reach a person’s device.

Using this technology, you could essentially create a geo-fenced Wi-Fi network for your home or office that anyone outside the pre-determined area wouldn’t be able to access, meaning you wouldn’t necessarily need a password to protect your network from internet-leeching neighbors.

Homes and drones

In an experiment, the team tracked users in a two-bedroom apartment accurately 94% of the time, while in another experiment, their success rate for determining if a person was inside a store or out on the sidewalk was 97%.

The research team sees Chronos having applications in smart homes, too.

“Imagine having a system like this at home that can continuously adapt the heating and cooling depending on [the] number of people in the home and where they are,” said Professor Dina Katabi, the lead on the project.

It can also, apparently, be used to make drones safer. For example, a drone could find users carrying a Wi-Fi capable device (like the ever-ubiquitous smartphone) and maintain a safe distance rather than crashing into them.

MIT says Chronos is 20 times more accurate than existing systems. It’s a bummer, then, that due to the way the system cycles through Wi-Fi bands, it can’t currently be used with existing routers.

How education startups are making learning more fun

Let’s say after a game on his mobile phone a 12-year-old boy has been able to master a little more of Calculus, or an impatient girl in fourth standard plugs into a tablet to know more about the ‘bite marks’ on Pluto, they wouldn’t necessarily be representative of a distant future.

Education-technology startups over the past decade have been transforming how youngsters learn, mainly via visual or interactive online modules that make learning instant and complex concepts more palatable. Several of these firms, though, are tethered to the formal model of education in India that is rooted in rote-learning and focused on test scores, which has largely meant linking students to tutors online or helping them improve test scores by generating multiple practice papers.

With technology rapidly evolving and students wanting to reach beyond structured boundaries, entrepreneurs and educationalists are pushing the limits trying to engage better with them. They are creating mobile-first, cloud-headquartered, analytics-based products, with emphasis on simplification and ease of use.

The four-people team at Oust Labs wants to make preparing for exams fun by putting friends and classmates through game-like competitions on its mobile application. The startup, founded last year, encourages students to hang out with friends on Oust as they bust challenges designed for 9th-12th standard students in science, math and social science.

A leaderboard features the top scorers, just as in gaming apps.

“Unlike regular test-prep solutions we are using mobile gaming as a mechanism to drive engagement with users,” said CEO Shrikant Latkar, former chief marketing officer at mobile advertising firm InMobi. This latest crop of startups are emblematic of a big change over the initial era of ed-tech companies, and their ingenuity is helping draw investors. From $13.06 million invested in ed-tech startups in 2014 across 13 deals, investors pumped in $107.5 million across 22 deals last year, show data from financial research firm VCCEdge.

“Mobile-first solutions and gamification technologies are the future of education, since they can scale very rapidly at low cost,” said TV Mohandas Pai, chairman of Manipal Global Education and an investor in ed-tech startups including Oust Labs, Magic Crate and OnlineTyari, which, too, is a test-prep firm. Magic Crate provides skill-enhancing activities for children in ages 4 to 8 in a subscription-based service starting at Rs 549 a month.

CarveNiche Technologies mines and analyses data to teach maths. Its automated learning platform, beGalileo, works like a multiple level storyboard through which a student has to progress step by step. In the background, the platform analyzes the user’s learning minutely. “It will go as minute as… this child is struggling with decimals, he doesn’t know fractions, etc. The system will place the child on a learning path on a knowledge graph. This is the path you need to cross to reach your goal,” said CEO Avneet Makkar.

Avneet said she got feedback from students that they tend to get bored studying alone. So beGalileo, which already has an option for an online tutor, will shortly introduce social learning through ‘Speed Math’ for students to be able to challenge friends and other users online.

Impartus Innovations is a video-based learning platform. It captures classroom lectures that are made available to students for anytime re-learning. Amit Mahensaria, chief strategy officer, wants to take this further.

“The new thing is connected classrooms… Students are not learning in a located period, they are doing it in their own pace and at their own time. In this, videos play a deep role.” The platform allows students to watch lectures on an app, talk to teachers and other students, find related study material, create bookmarks and make notes.

Impartus is also for teachers. It allows teachers to make short videos on the basics of a topic that have to be viewed before a class. The teachers can then go deeper into the subject during class, which will also be videographed.

“We are also coming out with tools for teacher improvement,” said Mahensaria. “We can say when you were teaching these portions you were off the topic… or maybe x students were disinterested. In the classroom, we have cameras recording the students as well. This involves behavioral psychology that will read the students through machine learning and say if they are confused, bored, etc.” Of course, some teachers initially resisted being video-graphed but now Impartus’s platform is now in use at premier schools including the Indian Institute of Management and PES Institute of Technology, both in Bengaluru.

“The thinking with the latest breed of ed-tech startups is totally new and their development cycles are much faster, which is anyway the nature of cloud and mobile. Also, these solutions are a lot more user-friendly,” said Anand Sudarshan, director at Sylvant Advisors, which has 19 ed-tech startups in its portfolio.

The big challenge, however, is to be able to convince institutes to buy or subscribe. “Sales cycles are too long and complicated with schools and direct selling to parents or students has its own complications,” Sudarshan said.

This is also because, as Mohandas Pai said, “Talking of education as a large market in this country is a joke since the addressable market is very small… Total funding on education from the government as well as private players combined makes for less than 6% of GDP.”

Now, watch Street View imagery of Sri Lanka on Google Maps

The new street view allows people around the world to view and experience the infamous bustle of downtown Colombo, the cool tea plantation hills, the rich history and beautiful and diverse landscapes of Sri Lanka in 360-degree panoramic imagery from their phone, tablet or computer.
Internet giant Google on Tuesday announced that its popular street view feature for Sri Lanka is active and available on Google Maps.

The launch brings the total number of countries where street view is available to 76.

“We are delighted to bring imagery of Sri Lanka to Street View on Google Maps” said Helena Lersch, manager (Public Policy) at Google in an official statement.

The new street view allows people around the world to view and experience the infamous bustle of downtown Colombo, the cool tea plantation hills, the rich history and beautiful and diverse landscapes of Sri Lanka in 360-degree panoramic imagery from their phone, tablet or computer.

To capture this imagery, Google drove close to 50,000 kilometres across every state and province in Sri Lanka starting from December 2014 and finished in February this year.

By bringing Street View to Sri Lanka, Google hopes to create a new way of showcasing Sri Lanka’s beauty to the world while helping strengthen the country’s already burgeoning tourism trade, the statement said.

Sri Lanka has become a popular tourism destination, with the numbers of tourists heading to the island nation growing by almost 20% each year. In 2015, 1.8 million tourists visited the country.

“Sri Lanka is already a popular tourist destination, and we hope Street View will make the country even more accessible to people interested in exploring and visiting here. Whether you continue your journey in Google Maps or are inspired to visit in person, we invite you to enjoy the Land of Lions” Lersch added.