It’s been little over a year since Reliance Jio started its commercial operations in India. The new telecom operator made a name for itself with free local and national calls, high speed 4G connectivity and content services with a suite of apps. With 160 million user base in record time, Jio also posted its first quarterly profit recently. But, Reliance Jio is not just about affordable connectivity, the company wants a share in digital and IoT space, and its India digital India plans prove that.
Last week, Reliance Jio held the first India Digital Open Summit 2018, where Akash Ambani mentioned that the company is committed to use open source technology, and that it will be a key driving force. He also mentioned that Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in India is expected to grow by 50 percent in the next five years. Ambani also highlighted the buzz around digital currency BitCoin and blockchain, which offers a digital ledger system to enable secure transaction. At the Reliance Corporate Park, the company also has an experience zone to showcase what all it has been working on, and there were a few things that caught my attention.
Cashless payments using sound waves
Soon after the demonetization back in November 2016, a lot of us moved to digital payments, even for the smallest of things. JioMoney, the company’s digital wallet has seen good adoption too. The app allows you to make utility bill payments, recharge your mobile and also make fund transfers to any bank account using IFSC code and account number. Merchants can also use the app to accept funds from their customers.
Samsung introduced Samsung Pay platform in India with MST technology, which uses magnetic waves to transmit credit / debit card information to the PoS terminal. This means, you can tap your smartphone onto the PoS terminal and make payments without actually swiping your card. On newer machines, the information is sent via NFC.
Samsung Pay and MST are limited to high-end smartphones. Even NFC chips aren’t common on affordable smartphones, which are widely sold in India. Reliance Jio has figured a way to enable cashless payments using sound waves. At the demo zone, the company showcased a small device with a speaker that emits sound waves, to transmit merchant information. This is similar to what China’a Alipay offers in Beijing.
The JioMoney app then uses the mic on your smartphone to capture the sound waves, read merchant information and send money. The idea is pretty good, and at the demo zone, Jio used a sub Rs 10,000 phone to demonstrate its working. The app and the feature is still in development phase, and there is no word when it will be released, but the idea makes good sense, enabling digital payments without much hassle. It could be one of the game changers in digital payments, and one of the USPs of JioMoney app.
A lot has already been spoken about IoT (Internet of Things) and home automation. While the concept is very much real, it is still futuristic form majority of people in India. Just like Jio did with the telecom space, it aims to do the same with home automation too. The company demonstrated an app that has your home appliances such as fans, air conditioners and lights connected to the home router. So, when you are at home or traveling, you can turn your appliances on or off using the app.
Jio also showcased a smart switch where you can pre-configure actions, for instance, pressing one button could turn off the lights, close window curtains, turn off the TV and DTH, and turn on the AC. Secondly, another button could be configured to open curtains, switch off the AC and more. This is more like quick commands for digital assistants.
FTTH – broadband, Live TV and more
Sitting in the room was also a TV setup with FTTH router having LAN ports and USB ports. The router is capable of peak transfer speeds of 1Gbps, and can connect up to 40 devices. Which means, all your smart devices – such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and IoT products can communicate via the FTTH modem.
Running on Android OS, the smart TV had Jio app suite, which includes JioTV to watch live TV, JioCinema to watch on-demand movies, and JioMusic to stream music. The demo zone also included an Nvidia Shield powered gaming console along with a joystick that would let you play all the graphics intense games.
JioVR and AR app
Lastly, the demo zone also had JioVR and AR apps, with interesting content from experiences around the world. The JioVR app is in beta and will work with even basic VR devices. In the demo, Jio had 360-degree videos shot at different locations, and the company is populating more videos for the app platform.
There were also a couple of augmented reality based apps on demo, one of which was a property app, that could help customers use their smartphones or tablets to check out the property and area around it.
Besides these, Jio has also been working on connected car platform, something that we have seen before also. Now, when you look at the ecosystem, Jio not just wants to be in the telecom space, but also aims to drive the connected home segment. As to what products it will sell, and the pricing remains to be seen. But from where I experienced at the demo zone, Jio is looking to disrupt this field too.