IoT Security Challenges and how can we address them?

From music speakers to thermostats, to lights and accessories, everything has some sort of intelligence; We are living in tech heaven, to be precise. Having moved from keypads to touch interfaces, we are currently in the no interface era. Every company is focusing on getting the maximum done with very little interaction with the device, and that means voice-activated computing powered by artificial intelligence.

Opportunities IoT Implementations Can Bring

The thing that makes everyone excited about the future of IoT is the versatility of solutions it can provide. This also makes IoT the buzzword of the decade because we can expect an explosion of IoT solutions in various sectors.

Internet-equipped sensors on any device make it possible to tap all the unused data, and analysis of this data leads into inferences about things that are usually considered ‘offline’. This can lead to better productivity, reduce cost, and can bring about a sustainable lifestyle.

Think about it – there are so many devices we use on a daily basis that is generating vast amounts of data. This data provides great insight into user behaviour, the implications of this data over the lifecycle of a device is still unknown. For example, the information generated by health bands provides insight into your daily habits, like step counts, heart rate and sleep pattern.

Wearable technology enabled bands, accessories and even clothes are connected to the phone and are recording data about everything from blood pressure to the posture.

Further, this can help transform insights into action through powerful applications thereby creating new revenue and business opportunities.

Also speaking of the Internet of Things (IoT), it is not just the companies building consumer-facing products that are a big deal, there are many companies providing wireless power solutions and cloud-based solutions that are more useful. This increase in IoT adoptions have also made organizations rethink traditional IT approaches.

Need for Security:

Since the term ‘IoT’ was coined first, the definition has evolved a lot. In a generic sense though, this is a highly intelligent Machine-to-Machine technology which has potential to revolutionize how we live and work.

While we enjoy these benefits, there is a huge chance that things could go wrong. Chances of data leaks, modification, the hacker gaining control over your products etc. Hence, it is important to focus on these areas and ensure that we are safe and secure.

Further, the increase in the adoption of IoT based technology in areas of a home, retail and industrial automation, health & fitness monitoring and connected vehicles as well as the advent and growth of Smart cities, has also resulted in a greater need for a better model to secure these products.

Key Security Challenges and Solutions for protecting IoT devices

Security and Privacy are critical issues for any company that offers IoT Based products and solutions. According to Gartner, it is expected that by the year 2020, we will have over 25 billion devices connected to the Internet.

It is important to understand the key security challenges that come along with IoT; this needs more attention to detail than anything else. With the rise of connected devices, IoT based products need built-in security that can cover every aspect of the design. Let us look at the top 5 areas that can help make secure IoT solutions.

1. Secure Product Lifecycle:

Security must be addressed throughout the device lifecycle, from the initial design to the operational environment. Ensuring the product boots up with the known configurations and only digitally signed applications are installed.

The products have to be tamper-proof as well. The device should ensure data encryption is used; for when in transport and at rest. Also, it’s important to use secure APIs and tokens for access authorization. Usage of PKIs will also ensure Data Integrity.

The devices need to be properly secured to mitigate risks for organizations and individuals from malicious attacks.

2. Maintain Updates on Devices:

When we analyze the reasons behind the increasing numbers of vulnerabilities on IoT products, there clearly stands out two important reasons:

  1. Lack of standards and guidelines in the manufacturing of IoT devices.
  2. More open source platforms usage also allows attackers to stay ahead of the curve.

To address this, it’s important to have a security validation done on these devices before deploying these products in a work environment. It is also important to perform continuous updates and patching on personal devices to reduce vulnerabilities.

3. Secure Device Settings:

Data Leaks in IoT is another threat vector which most of the companies need to focus on. In the wake of massive data breaches and data theft cases we’ve seen in recent years, more effort needs to be made to secure IoT-related data to ensure the privacy of consumers and the functionality of businesses and corporations.

The gateways that connect IoT devices to company or manufacturer networks need to be secured as well as the devices themselves. IoT devices are always connected and on. In contrast to other devices, they go through a one-time authentication process, which can make them perfect sources of infiltration into company networks. Therefore, more security needs to be implemented on these gateways to improve the overall security of the system.

Data Integrity is a key aspect that would need focus as well. Certificates for devices validate identities to make sure only authorized users and machines have access to the device. It creates an encrypted link and allows information to be transmitted privately. They also make sure that any messages or data transferred from/to the device are not altered.

Good security principles are needed; regardless it is a low-powered device or a desktop class laptop.

4. Defense in Depth Strategy:

Defense in depth often includes usage of products and solutions like AV software, firewalls, anti-spyware programs, hierarchical passwords, intrusion detection and biometric verification.

Defense in Depth strategy would be the ideal solution for securing data from the IoT devices. Defense in Depth is an information assurance mechanism where multiple layers of security controls are placed throughout an information technology system.

A well-designed strategy will help system administrators identify people who attempt to compromise a device. If a hacker gains access to a system, defence in depth minimizes the adverse impact and gives administrators and engineers time to deploy new or updated countermeasures to prevent recurrence.

5. Default Passwords:

Most devices are ready to use out-of-the-box, attackers have learned how to leverage this to access devices discovered on the internet through tools like Shodan which has an inventory of Cameras, Refrigerators and other IoT devices. This has also been leveraged to employ devices to participate in massive attacks on the Internet.

In October 2016, Dyn DNS was attacked with IoT devices which were taken over in this way and caused a prolonged outage for sites including Twitter, Amazon, Tumblr, Reddit, Spotify and Netflix.

Changing your default password on all devices helps prevent this type of attack and helps maintain your privacy.

Summary:

IoT devices can help simplify and improve our visibility and capabilities, at the same time it can expose us to new threats, taking a few simple steps will help protect us against these threats:

  • Keep devices up to date
  • Choose Secure settings available
  • Change all default passwords.

Building a successful IoT environment will require massive amounts of coordination and strong analytics. More platforms are coming up to sync up devices on a data level, and not just with respect to connectivity alone.

Just like any other field, there are many sceptics around in tech industry as well. They predict IoT as a bubble that would burst very soon. But for the rest of us, we are definitely heading towards a better, sustainable future where there’s going to be a lot more evolution happening on the IoT front and we will be there to protect it.

 

Mi Band 2 Review: A New Champion among Fitness Trackers

The Mi Band is one of the most successful products for Xiaomi in India. Announced in Early 2016, according to an IDC survey over a short period of time it has become the number one wearable brand in India with over 27% market. Globally, Xiaomi takes the second position followed by Apple. Fitbit leads there. We now have Mi Band 2, as an upgrade to the original Fitness Band which will be available in India around the festival season later this year.

When you unbox it, the contents are similar to the earlier edition of the band. You are provided with a tracker module, a charging cradle, a manual and the band. The cradle is where you slide in the module and the other end connects to an USB port for charging. You do have an option to buy different color straps/bands.

Unboxing Xiaomi Mi Band 2

Hardware, Look and Feel:

Mi has introduced a display to the tracker module. The screen on the tracker isn’t touch sensitive.However, it responds to the taps and touches on the capacitive button. The tracker displays time, number of steps, the distance covered, heart rate, calories burnt, call alerts, alarms etc.

Xiaomi Mi Band 2 Review

The band connects to your smartphone using Bluetooth 4.0 LE (Low Energy) protocol. This is an IP67 water resistant band which can withstand a splash but its not water proof so you can’t wear your band during your swimming sessions.

The metallic clasp resembles the touch button of the module giving it a very premium look. The band feels very comfortable even after using for long hours.

The Mi band 2 also has an optical heart rate sensor which isn’t continuous like the Fitbit Charge HR. So every-time you scan your vitals from the band, the heart-rate is scanned and displayed.It can be checked from the Mi band App on your phone as well.

Xiaomi Mi Band 2 HR Sensor

I used this band for over 10 days and I have to say that, I am pleasantly surprised with the results. I used it alongside my Fitbit Blaze on the same hand to compare the results. The difference was about 500 steps and I am unsure on which of them is inaccurate. However, its is a small number to complain as every band comes with some level of variance.

Software, User Experience:

The awesomeness of the Mi Band is not just in the hardware, but the software is phenomenal too. The Mi Fit App is available for both iOS and Android. Once you download, you have to create a Mi account to get started. Enter the numbers that matter, set your goals, pair your tracker and Voila! you are good to go.

The Mi Fit app has evolved over years and it now gives you the information in a neater dashboard along with other nifty options. For accuracy of the tracking data the app lets you choose between the hands you would wear the band on. The App  now supports integration with Google Fit as well.

Call alerts work neatly , I really liked the feature where you can ignore alerts from unknown numbers.

I loved the Idle Alert feature. Wherein if you are idle for more than an hour, the Mi band gives you a nudge and vibrates so that you get moving, probably take a small walk or even stretch and stay active. This is useful especially when your work involves sitting for long hours. You also have the option to tune this according to your working hours.

Solid design and less intrusive construction makes this band very comfortable to wear all through the day even while asleep. Thereby, helping in analyzing your sleep routine along with other activities.

You can track your daily, weekly and monthly progress graphically, though it would be great if we have some algorithms built which would help us by making more sense of these numbers similar to what Jawbone does with its Smart Coach.

Xiaomi Mi Band 2 Mi Fit App

I would’ve wished if the software had an option of an alarm where the device wakes you up, when you are in light sleep, thereby helping you to wake up more refreshed.

I also hope that the app gets better on auto detecting activities. Like, when you take a quick run. There’s no GPS for accurate tracking or any kind of extra features for runners.

Pros and Cons, Value for Money:

It’s a is a no brainer that Mi band 2 is an affordable and fantastic fitness tracking band that gives you a premium feel, great hardware and software and to top all that, the Heart Rate sensor at roughly about 1500 INR is a steal. The official prices haven’t been announced yet. The competition is selling bands at 7-8 times higher than this price.

Xiaomi Mi Band 2 Construction

Personally I think, the biggest advantage is also a pain point for me. The battery is so good on the Mi bands that the first edition of Mi Band used to run happily for little over a month. I would sometimes forget where I had kept my charging dongle. It sounds funny, but this is true. getting a spare charger is a challenge and you can’t charge the module in any other manner.

For Mi band 2 the company claims a battery life of 20 days which should easily be at least 12-15 days on regular usage. Considering the display, its a great deal.

I have always been a fan of the Fitbit Charge HR; a band which doesn’t try to be a smartwatch. Does what its supposed to do and also feels comfortable on hands. The Mi Band 2 adds up to the list of recommendations. This is my favourite affordable band at this moment and I absolutely vouch for the same. If you’re looking to get fit by walking and bringing in a good discipline in your routine, I definitely recommend buying this. Even if not for yourself, this is an ideal gift for your loved ones!

Pebble Time Round Review: Thin, Super Light and a Premium Smartwatch

Pebble introduced their first smartwatch to the market through a kickstarter campaign which was a massive success, collecting around $10 million for development of the smartwatch. This was the most money raised for any product on Kickstarter at that time. Since then Pebble has introduced few models and the Time Round is the latest smartwatch from the company. This smartwatch is super light and thin. The company claims this model to be world’s lightest. To be honest, I can’t think of any other smartwatch which is this thin and most importantly, comfortable on hands. Let us look at the Pebble Time Round Review in this article. The Time Round is available for USD 249 in the US, and on Amazon.in for a price of INR 13599 in India.

Hardware, Look and Feel:

The Pebble Time Round is made up of stainless steel and looks beautiful. The all-metal chassis and smooth beveled edges adds to the looks. Its thin and feels super premium. The construction of the body feels very strong and sturdy. The glass on the top blends very well with the edges. The side buttons has an excellent feel and are spaced well. The Pebble Time Round is easily the best wearable the company has brought to market, not only in the looks; but to the quality of construction, materials used and the well-designed body.

Pebble Time Round Back Stainless SteelThe bezel is slightly a turn-off though. The Display is certainly not as rich or colorful as brighter OLED panels, but it’s still works perfectly. Time Round is much more legible under bright sunlight. Thanks to the e-paper display. This also means, that the display remains on at all times. The display is slightly dim when you compare it with other smartwatches. However, that affects the battery life.

Pebble Time Round Weather

The company has sacrificed a lot of battery life to make the watch as small and thin as possible. This isn’t a great deal breaker. I get about 2 days of battery life. The Time Round also charges super quick. With just 15 minutes, the watch gets about a 60% charge.

Pebble Time Round Weather App

Software, User Experience:

Pebble’s software is simple. Its efficient and delivers what it promises. The Pebble Time Round can display notifications from a phone paired over Bluetooth, iOS and Android devices only.

The OS has a feature called Timeline that lets you scroll through past or upcoming information, such as weather, sports, calendar appointments, messages, or missed calls. The OS has another feature called ‘Quiet time’ which gives you an option to turn off notifications on certain days or time when you don’t want to get notified.

Pebble Time Round Call Notification

The device supports step counting and sleep tracking through 3rd party apps. The watch also has support for Alarms and alerts. Further, Pebble’s app store has a lot of apps to choose from, mostly free. The store currently has over 150 apps and 400 watch faces.

I have an iPhone; Can I buy the Pebble Time Round?

Well to be honest, There is no smartwatch worth buying other than the Apple Watch for you. Android Wear does support, notifications and other actions on your iPhone, but it isn’t as powerful.

The Pebble software gives you support for call alerts and app notifications on your iPhone. However, it isn’t as powerful as on Android phones. You get much finer control and many more useful features when paired with an Android phone. You will be able to view and dismiss notifications, trigger voice commands on supported apps; however, the notifications are non-actionable – you won’t be able to delete an email, like a FB post or even replying back to a message by voice, which is possible on the Android phones. I heard Pebble is working on better iOS integration. Let’s wait and watch.

Pros and Cons, Value for Money:

At INR 13599 ($249 in the US), the Time Round is more expensive than it looks; which may feel a bummer. However, this is the first smartwatch I’ve loved using. I’ve tried a number of smartwatches in the past. My most favorite was the Moto 360. I can say that with the Pebble Time Round I didn’t feel like I was actually wearing a smartwatch, it pretty much looked like a standard one and I like the simplistic approach.

The Battery on the Pebble Time Round easily lasts two days, and charges super quick as well. The OS is simple, fast and even the community of developers and users is growing. The watch is Thin, light and very comfortable on hands.

Touchscreen, Lack of GPS and Heart Rate sensor does look like a negative points, when you compare this with other Android Wear watches available in the market. We would’ve loved the watch to be water proof (Its just SplashProof). The round display lacks some support from existing developers who had developed apps for other variants of Pebble. A better iOS support would’ve been great as well.

Pebble Time Round Watch Face

The Time Round will definitely impress quite a few people. If you want a simple smartwatch that’s great for notifications and, serves the purpose to show you the time, the Pebble Time Round is a worthy option. If fits smaller wrists as well. Also, If you are wary about smartwatches to be too geeky, this is probably one watch you should try. It looks subtle and very impressive.

HDFC Bank Introduces Watch Banking in India for Apple Watch

HDFC Bank has launched a new app for the Apple Watch. With the new app, HDFC Bank becomes the first bank in the country to foray into watch banking.
hdfcWith the launch of wearable devices and potential demand for wearable devices in India, consumers are highly likely to add yet another digital interface – a wearable device – to their current portfolio of devices. A banking experience on a personalized wearable device would take the consumer’s interaction with the bank to a whole new level.

HDFC Bank is starting with the Apple Watch and aims to provide banking services through all wearable devices across platforms like iOS and Android Wear.

Features of HDFC Bank Watch Banking

HDFC Bank will provide a total of 10 banking transactions in the current launch phase. Some of them being View Account Information, Bill Payments, Recharges, Hotlisting facilities, locate nearest branch/ATM/offer, request statement/chequebook etc. Moreover, HDFC Bank’s WatchBanking does not require our customers to download a separate App. Customers can activate WatchBanking from an upgraded version of HDFC Bank’s MobileBanking App itself!

Security features and how will it work?

HDFC Bank brings in the same level of high security of its Mobile Banking App to its Watch Banking experience.

  • Any user information or data flow that happens, it if from the mobile phone to the bank’s secure servers. The watch is merely a projection device
  • For added security, there is a watch banking PIN that the user himself sets during the one time set-up process. This can be done only after entering his customer id and password known only to the user.
  • Additionally the Apple watch itself has a passcode lock just like other iOS devices.

hdfc-bank

Features in the Current Release

  1. View all A/c Information – Savings, Current, Fixed Deposits, Demat, Mutual Funds, Credit Cards
  2. Recharge Mobile and DTH
  3. Request A/c Statement
  4. Request Cheque book
  5. Locate nearest ATM
  6. Locate nearest Branch
  7. View discount offers
  8. Call the Bank
  9. Hotlist Debit Card
  10. View Messages from the bank

There are few other features which are expected to hit the watch-banking app soon.

  • Pay bills of pre-added billers
  • Pay bills through active notifications
  • Get notified about offers based on your location

Take a Bow Microsoft, HoloLens brought the trust back in you!

Microsoft just unveiled a new wearable computer called HoloLens, a device that projects 3-D images you can interact with right in front of your eyes. The Windows HoloLens is similar to an augmented reality experience (the kind many apps on smartphones aim to give) except that this is much more advanced, because users can wear a headset, like Virtual Reality goggles,  to experience holograms in real life.

For Other announcements from the Windows 10 Event which happened on 21st January, 2015 – Read this article

With Google Glass off the grid, HoloLens opens up a great avenue for implementations. Think about the variety of applications developers can build for it. Creatives can also use an app called HoloStudio to design their own holograms at home, inside the HoloLens device itself. One can even 3D print designs from the software directly, too. That’s impressive!

HoloLens brings high-definition holograms in your world, where they integrate with your physical places, spaces, and things. Microsoft says these holograms will transform your digital content (a say a picture or a graph or a game you’ve been playing) into real, physical objects in the room which you can physically interact with. For instance, you would be able to actually play Minecraft as though the game existed in the real world and not just the digital world.

Microsoft introduced Windows Holographic, a new API to add a layer of augmented reality to Windows 10. Developers can now add holograms to their apps with this new technology, viewable through Microsoft’s special goggles, Microsoft HoloLens. The smart goggles can understand users’ gestures, voice and the spatial area surrounding them.

Good Bye Google Glass, until we meet again!

Google will stop selling its 1500 USD worth, Glass (a wearable internet connected eye-glasses), to consumers until the company can develop a more polished and affordable version. The Google Glass is more of an explorer edition as of now. Google hasn’t disclosed how many units of the Glass’ Explorer version were sold. The company says about 100 businesses, including Hewlett-Packard, Boeing and Taco Bell, are testing Glass as a tool for work.

Glass will now operate in a division steered by veteran marketing executive Ivy Ross, whose past experience includes stints at fashion-conscious companies such as Gap Inc. and Calvin Klein. Google will still sell a version of Glass to companies that have found uses for the device in their offices, stores and factories. The Mountain View, California, company still plans to come back with a new consumer model of Glass, but hasn’t set a timetable for the next release.

In a blog post, Google wrote –

It’s hard to believe that Glass started as little more than a scuba mask attached to a laptop. We kept on it, and when it started to come together, we began the Glass Explorer Program as a kind of “open beta” to hear what people had to say.

Explorers, we asked you to be pioneers, and you took what we started and went further than we ever could have dreamed: from the large hadron collider at CERN, to the hospital operating table; the grass of your backyard to the courts of Wimbledon; in fire stations, recording studios, kitchens, mountain tops and more.

Glass was in its infancy, and you took those very first steps and taught us how to walk. Well, we still have some work to do, but now we’re ready to put on our big kid shoes and learn how to run.

Since we first met, interest in wearables has exploded and today it’s one of the most exciting areas in technology. Glass at Work has been growing and we’re seeing incredible developments with Glass in the workplace. As we look to the road ahead, we realize that we’ve outgrown the lab and so we’re officially “graduating” from Google[x] to be our own team here at Google. We’re thrilled to be moving even more from concept to reality.

As part of this transition, we’re closing the Explorer Program so we can focus on what’s coming next. January 19 will be the last day to get the Glass Explorer Edition. In the meantime, we’re continuing to build for the future, and you’ll start to see future versions of Glass when they’re ready. (For now, no peeking.)

Thanks to all of you for believing in us and making all of this possible. Hang tight—it’s going to be an exciting ride.

Moto 360 Android Wear: smartwatch Review and Pictures

Moto 360 is a neatly designed smartwatch from Motorola, powered by Android Wear. This was one of the jaw dropping gadgets announced early this year. This was always on my wish-list and I finally picked it when Flipkart made the watch available last week. In this review, let’s look at two main areas which makes and breaks the deal of this watch. Well, the battery lasts all day for me. I would’ve loved, if it ran for 2 days at least; but again, that’s not too big a concern. I am happy with it.
Thanks to the choice of premium materials used, The moto 360 definitely comfortable and looks very classy. Its circular watch face is one of the most impressive features; it almost reminds of those stylish designer wristwatches with analog tickers. You can glance at your wrist to see updates or just speak to get the information you need. The sensors in-place also helps you keep track of your steps and know your heart rate.

Its been over a week with the Moto 360 and my experience has been pretty good.

Hardware, Look and Feel

The Moto 360 runs a Texas Instruments OMAP 3 Processor with a  4 GB of internal storage, 512 MB of RAM and 320mAh of battery.  It also comes with a bunch of sensors on it – Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Pedometer,  Compass, Heart rate sensor and a Dual microphone.

The Moto 360 is an IP67 certified water resistant watch. (The IP number is composed of two numbers, the first referring to the protection against solid objects and the second against liquids. The higher the number, the better the protection). The Moto 360 can only stand and Protect against the effect of immersion between 15cm and 1m; and not against long periods of immersion under pressure. You will also find the heart-rate monitor sensor in the center. (image below).

The Moto 360 comes in two different color variants; black and Gray. The gray one comes with a stainless steel metal watch face and a Gray strap; whereas the black one comes with a black painted stainless steel watch face with a one-sided black colored strap. The horween leather gives a velvet texture to the strap. The stainless steel buckle is simple and impressive as well. This gives a very neat feel to the watch and stays firm in your hand unlike button holds or magnetic straps.

In the position of the traditional watch dialer, you have the home button surrounded by a brass material. This gives a very premium look and feel to the watch when you use it.

The screen is made up of a Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The IPS display screen is sharp and works pretty slick in day-light as well. You must’ve already read or seen different reviews about the fact of moto 360 not having a full circle display. Well, there is a little notch/band in the bottom of the screen which holds the ambient light sensors, display drivers and the digitizer. Motorola could’ve avoided this band, but that would’ve resulted in a bigger bezel edge. Watch this video on ‘The Verge’, where the motorola engineers explain the design.

The Black strap version isn’t available on Flipkart as of now; but will eventually show up. Motorola had also announced that, the metal straps are going to be available by end of this year.

The accessory is yet another highlight. The wireless charging cradle looks impressive and doubles as a night watch clock. The charging surface just wirelessly charges the Moto 360 when you keen the watch on the cradle; which means, no clamping adapters or cables getting tagged up to the watch. The rubber foot on the charging cradle holds well on glass surfaces and tables. You can also charge the watch with any other wireless chargers as well.

Software Platform, Integration:

Any phone running Android 4.3 or newer and supports Bluetooth LE is compatible with Moto 360. To begin using the watch, you will have to install the Android wear app on your phone and pair your watch on Bluetooth. The watch would sync for all the notification and app interactions. However, some integral elements like Pedometer, Clock and heart sensor need not have a paired Android Phone to work.

The Android Wear app, allows you to control some basic settings of your watch. You can choose between the watch and phone for the primary screen for notifications. I personally love the option to silence the connected phone, especially when I am wearing the watch. Works great at work and while driving. Android Wear does take time to sync your applications to watch; hence, you have an option to re-sync the applications manually.

You can also prevent some applications from pushing the notifications to the watch. for eg: If you get mentioned too often on twitter, you can basically turn off the notifications on the watch. Motorola also offers an app Motorola Connect, which help you customize the watch faces, edit your wellness profile etc.

You can basically tap on the screen to look through different cards coming in from your Google Now experience; and also notifications from your applications. You can continuously swipe through the right for more information and actions; and can also swipe left to close the notification. For example: On a whatsapp message notification, you can tap to open, swipe right to look through the entire conversation and message, further swipe right to reply to the message by speaking in-to the phone. The Google Text to speech is very impressive and pretty much works spot on. You can further swipe left to dismiss this notification.

 

You can also wake up the watch by just twisting your wrist; pretty much similar to how you would use your wrist watch to see the time. You can long Press on the watch screen to change different watch faces; and also gently tap to start the Google Search App.

Dragging the screen from top will also mute the notifications coming on your watch. You can also see the battery status and the date here.  You get a vibration alert on notifications. Please note, the Moto 360 does not have a speaker module built in it.

While on the home-screen, you can say, “Ok Google”, to basically search, take a note, set a reminder or even Navigate to a nearest cafe etc.

In the settings menu, you will find an option to adjust the brightness of the display and also have an option to change to an ambient screen. Ambient screen allows you to see the watch face and the notifications in a dim state all through. Having it on would certainly drain the battery much earlier than usual. When you turn off the Ambient mode, the watch screen completely turns off thereby which saving battery on the watch and switches on only when you move your wrist or tap on the screen or press the home button.

There is no app-launcher built in this watch (Android Wear) as of now. You will need to goto Google (gentle tap on the watch), and then scroll down to select the start option to invoke any app. You will find all the predefined apps and you can also load more by installing wear apps on your phone from the play store.

Other simple tips involve, using the home button to wake up or put the phone to sleep or long press to quickly reach the settings option.  You can also dim the display of the watch by just placing your palm over it.

If someone calls you on your connected Android Phone, you receive a notification (with their picture from your directory) which allows you to either dismiss the call or answer. However, to speak, you will need to use the phone or any other bluetooth enabled headset.

Pros and Cons:

Though it looks like Android Wear technology is made for square or rectangle devices, the circular Moto 360 doesn’t look strange or cutout on most of the information. When compared with other Android Wear, the Moto 360 runs an older processor. The Snapdragon definitely out beats the OMAP 3 in terms of the speed, but the simple design philosophy of android doesn’t show a vast difference. The Moto 360 is definitely a well designed and beautifully constructed smartwatch. The wireless charging cradle makes it look so elegant as well. The pedometer and the Heart rate monitor apps work slick as well.

Although it looks like a heavy metal watch, it feels very light.

At first, it looked like an extended screen for the phone and additional overhead to charge this unit along with my regular smartphones. However, its been a week and I use the watch to skim through the notifications during meetings, take voice actions, notes etc. I do not seem to miss any notification and most importantly, works pretty awesome with Google micro Maps while driving. With increase in screen size of smartphones these days, mounting a big phone on dashboard/windshield for maps is quite cumbersome.

At 17,999 INR (250 USD in the US), I would definitely recommend this, if you are looking at buying a smart watch. This is not an ultimate watch. It is still a first generation device and there are few notable limitations; However, this ecosystem is certainly going to evolve and I’m sure, it would make your life easy.

Summing up, Simplicity is the one word which you can easily associate with Moto 360 or Android Wear in general. This would definitely change the way how you interact with you phone in days to come. The Moto 360 is a very impressive unit and it’s definitely one of the best looking Android Wear devices available till date.

GetActive tapp Health Tracking Wearable Band Launched today; Priced at Rs. 4999/-

Wearable technologies and Analytics in Healthcare has gained good traction in the markets these days. GetActive, one of the leaders in Indian wearable technology announced the launch of GetActive tapp in Bangalore today. It is available for sale exclusively on Myntra early mid october and is priced at Rs.4999 (roughly about USD 82).

First Impressions:

GetActive tapp, is constructed with a no nickel material and is made out of TPU (Thermoplastic polyurethane) which looks solid and yet feels soft on hand. Similar to Fitbit and other Health Tracking bands, it tracks daily physical activity like – steps taken in a day, calories burnt, distance covered in ‘km’, and non-sedentary time spent all day. In addition, it allows you to accumulate currency for every step taken, which can be redeemed in GetActive’s partner ecosystem. GetActive tapp sports a sleek and trendy design which wirelessly syncs with your smartphone to deliver live fitness stats, which can be viewed on a personalised dashboard, downloadable both by iOS and Android phones. It uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to communicate automatically with mobile phones. According to the company, the battery is a 110mAh and would last for a good 4-5 days. I will review the device in the next few days and will update with more information and feedback.

getactive_tapp

A product of 2mpower Health Management Services, GetActive tapp was launched after research by Mohammed Hussain Naseem and his team who cumulatively have more than 200 man years of experience in the segment. GetActive is the first bouquet of health products in India to be built ground up, with algorithms developed for Indian conditions. They believe in creating a more active India where individuals will walk towards their well being. As of today, they have over 10 million steps clocked everyday; they are looking at increasing it to 100 billion steps everyday in the next 3 years. Mohammed also explained, when fitness is fun and non-regimental, it is more willingly accepted; and hence, their platform is designed towards high engagement through competition, challenge & rewards within the GetActive community.

I personally feel, the idea of choosing Myntra over other e-shopping options is a killer idea. When discussed with Ganesh Subramanian, the COO of Myntra, he explained about the endeavour of helping people look good. Being fit and healthy is a step towards looking good. Sports and fitness being a large category with Myntra, is a clear indication of fitness conscious young India. Wearables are one such category which has been getting an extremely encouraging response from their customer segment. With GetActive tapp, they will introduce a whole new user experience to the consumers.

The GetActive platform on the web & mobile app is a powerful engagement tool and works with GetActive tapp, as well. It helps people build a community, who can compete, challenge and get rewarded for ACTIVE behaviour. Going forward the GetActive ecosystem will comprise of medical experts, nutritionist, health Insurance companies, hospitals & lifestyle companies. GetActive product portfolio today consists of:

  • GetActive tapp – Trendy band with choice of colors & automatic wireless sync
  • GetActive Slim – an ultra slim clip-on with a sleep monitor
  • GetActive eZ – Fitness for all, an easy to read large LCD display

As per a recent Accenture report, consumers in India were most interested in buying fitness monitors (80 percent), smart watches (76 percent) and Internet-enabled eyeglasses (74 percent). Industry observers believe that the wearables category is at a nascent stage in India, today. They estimate that the category is pegged at 50 Cr in 2014 and will reach a whopping 2500 Cr, by 2018. In the US, this industry will touch 50,000 Cr ($8.5B) during the same time.

GetActive aims at increasing and sustaining regular physical activity through quantification, gamification & social engagement. Over the last three years, GetActive has empowered more than fifteen thousand people towards a healthier and happier life across the country. They have also tied up with 28 corporates to improve the work productivity and efficiency of their employees.