A.I. - Revolutionizing The Start-up Sphere In India From Mad Street Den to Hike, this is how A.I. can change startups in India.

By Ritu Kochar

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A step towards humanity is often said, but a step towards a human-like machine never caught on. The much debated topic of Artificial Intelligence does keep coming at the surface from time to time. However, it seems like The Matrix did a great job in infusing the fear of artificial intelligence in people's mind with Agent Smith showing his prowess, every time getting better.

The technology and working of A.I. is much appreciated. Intriguing too. The world has great plans for this nascent technology and Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator gave us enough reasons to believe in its goodness. Yet, when tech gurus and geniuses like Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking themselves fear the advancement of artificial technology to a level of electronic apocalypse, we can hardly accept it in the right spirits.

So how do we use this intelligence without creeping people out? The founders of Mad Street Den, a startup using features of A.I. seem to have the answer. Ashwini Asokan and Anand Chandrasekaran believe that artificial intelligence does not have to be necessarily creepy. It could be fun, entertaining and silly too. "We're here to make machines more useful by making them a bit more human: fun, intelligent and relevant. They will sense as babies, observe and play as youngsters, learn and change with you as they grow older," said Anand in MobiSparks 2013. Where movies always portray A.I. in the extreme situations, we forget its numerous uses. We are forgetting that more intelligent our devices and systems get, more convenient our lives will be.

How is A.I. being experimented in India?

Mad Street Den is redefining A.I. in the country. With 12 products out already, they have started exploring the most basic and fun ways of using it. This includes everyday uses like image and voice recognition, visual search, personalisation, user engagement and analytics, IOT (Internet of Things), and mobile gaming. They wish to use it in a way that you could make a change in your game with just a wink. The idea is to incorporate intelligence into applications and enhance those using A.I. elements. This could be used for healthcare, lifestyle, security and analytic needs of the world.

Is the Indian Market ready for A.I.?

The co-founder of Mad Street Den, Ashwini thinks that it is the perfect time for retailing A.I. In an interview at Surge, currently happening at Bangalore, she said this is artificial intelligence's third or fourth coming and this business has never succeeded in the world. Being new again, the time is "absolutely perfect' to retail it. With offline and online retail getting success, A.I. will make these services easier and thus these two domains will grow together helping each other on the way.

When asked why this is the right time? Ashwini said, "Because everyone's experimenting. That's what is fabulous about this place right now. Everybody wants new tech and everybody wants to be differentiated from each other." This is where Mad Street Dens comes into scene. Only last month Mad Street Den launched Vue.ai, a visual recommendation platform for fashion portals. The technology empowers a site to recognise the cut, colour, texture and gender of the dress and help it to instantly bring back similar results using a mix of artificial intelligence and computer vision. The startup's clients include Craftsvilla, Voonik, YepMe and Kaaryah, which are able to provide recommendations based on colour and dress patterns. If used correctly, A.I. could take online shopping to new heights.

Hike to use A.I. to beat What's app

Hike is not far behind in utilizing this intelligence of machines. It plans to beat Whats app by using A.I. elements in its app and change the way people chat. "We really believe that messaging will do to mobile what browser did to the CD. Say, you want to check the score of a cricket match while you are on the laptop. You go to the browser, search and click on three links. This cannot work on the phone. So, you download apps. But, there are hundreds of heavy apps and space is at a premium," says Kavin Mittal, CEO of Hike. "And that's why we are adding micro sites to the app. Last year, we launched a new news app in the messenger." The plan is to add micro sites to enhance the content on site, without making the site heavy that will curb people's need for content. The idea is great but time will tell if the execution is done as perfectly.

A major part of our world now operates on internet services. Ashwini believes that the robotics is taking off and anything surrounding internet services will grow in the future. If A.I. is built around that, we can look forward to a convenient world but if it starts taking decision for us or treating us as ants or pets, as Steve Wozniak puts it, we have to think about it before it's too late. Before we figure out that we might not have a "Neo' to save us.

(With inputs from Sneha Banerjee)

Ritu Kochar

Former Staff, Entrepreneur India

Ritu used to work as a Feature writer for Entrepreneur India.

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