Tag Archives: Google in Asia

A more accessible internet for Indians

Rama Devi has taught more than a thousand women how to use the internet in her role as a saathi—now she’s helping farmers become more productive. Amita Raghu has used digital tools to grow Krishne Tassels, her traditional saree tassel business, and trained 700 women in the art of tassel-making. Rajesh Jain, winner of Google’s AI Impact Challenge, has created an app that helps cotton farmers identify pests just by snapping a photo.


These are some of the more than 460 million Indians using the internet to search, create, solve problems, build businesses—and help others. They show how technology isn’t just driving economic growth in India, but creating a ripple effect of opportunity across communities. 


Continuing that momentum was the focus of this year’s Google for India event, where we shared announcements aimed at making the internet more accessible, inclusive and empowering for Indians.   


Expanding reliable Wi-Fi in India


Four years ago, we launched Google Station: a partnership with Railtel and Indian Railways to bring fast, reliable and secure WiFi to 400 train stations. We hit that milestone last May, and we’ve also expanded the program beyond train stations to include thousands of public buildings and spaces around the country.  Today we announced the next step: a partnership with BSNL to bring high-speed public WiFi to villages in Gujarat, Bihar and Maharashtra—places that haven’t had a WiFi connection before. 


We also announced an initiative to help the hundreds of millions of Indians who use 2G phones get the information they need, without requiring data or an internet connection. The Vodafone-Idea Phone Line—supported by the Google Assistant—enables Vodafone-Idea users to call a single number (000 0800 9191000) free of charge at any time, and ask for everything from sports scores, traffic conditions and weather forecasts to help with homework. The service will be available across India in English and Hindi.


Speaking India’s languages


As we improve access to the internet, we also need to make it relevant and helpful, with information Indians need in the languages they speak.  


For many Indians, searching by voice rather than text is their first choice. Two years ago, we introduced voice search in nine Indian languages on Google Assistant.  Hindi is now the second-most used Assistant language globally after English. And from today, you can simply say, "Hey Google, talk to me in Hindi” (or the Indian language of your choice) to start using the Assistant, without needing to dig around in settings.


We’re also adding more Indian languages to the Google apps Indians use, including Discover, Lens and Bolo (an AI-powered teaching app that’s already helped 700,000 young Indians learn to read).   


Lens


Building platforms for economic opportunity

One of the biggest factors in India’s booming internet economy has been the rise of digital payments—from 17 million transactions in August 2017 to more than 900 million last month.

We launched Google Pay to support this growth, giving Indians a fast, safe and reliable way of making and receiving payments.  It’s now used by millions of people to complete transactions with hundreds of thousands of offline and online merchants. But we think there’s an even bigger role for Google Pay as a tool to support small businesses. 

Starting today, we’re introducing the Spot platform: a way for businesses to create experiences and engage their customers within the Google Pay app.  Popular services like UrbanClap, Goibibo, MakeMyTrip, RedBus, Eat.Fit and Oven Story are already on board through our early access program, and we’re excited to see how other organizations use Spot to make life easier and more convenient for the Indians who rely on them. 

We’re deepening our support for small businesses through a new app called Google Pay for Business: a free and easy way for small merchants and storefronts to enable digital payments without the hassle of time-consuming verification process.  And we’re stepping up our support for job seekers too - introducing a Spot on Google Pay to help people find entry level positions that aren’t always easily discoverable online. We’ll be partnering with the National Skill Development Corporation to make sure Skill India students can take advantage of it. 

Spot on Google Pay

Merchants can use Spot on Google Pay to provide a better customer experience. 

These are just some of our efforts to help more Indians share in the benefits of the internet economy, and we’re looking forward to continuing to contribute to India’s extraordinary progress and growth. 

Backing Asia Pacific’s emerging newsroom leaders

Across Asia Pacific, a new generation of journalists is telling the region’s stories and tackling the challenges facing the news industry. The Google News Initiative (GNI) Newsroom Leadership Program, a collaboration between GNI and the Columbia School of Journalism, was established to develop the business and product expertise of these emerging newsroom leaders. Today we’re announcing the 2019-2020 Program fellows and sharing more about their projects.  


The projects they chose are as diverse as their backgrounds. These journalists hail from Pakistan to Japan, India to Australia. They’ll be looking at how digital tools can make great storytelling even better, championing socially-conscious reporting and investigating new approaches to political polling. And they’ll explore new membership and revenue models for news, helping fund the future of journalism in their countries. 


As they work on their projects, the fellows will take part in seminars and develop professional networks across the region. To find out more, we spoke to Raju Narisetti, the Director of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism and Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia, who helped develop the program. 


What are the skills you think emerging newsroom leaders need to be successful today?

The most critical skill is an understanding of the business of journalism and the forces shaping the industry. They also need to hone the ability to think of content as a product, and the willingness to let data inform their decisions. These “hard” skills need to be coupled with “power skills” like developing diverse teams, leading with purpose and managing relentless change.


How do you think the GNI Newsroom Leadership Program addresses this?

The fellows will experience a mix of theory and practice in seminars during their in-residence weeks at Columbia School of Journalism.  Practitioners as well as academics will deliver the sessions, which are specifically designed for the media industry. Topics will range from revenue streams and media sustainability to building video, audience and analytics frameworks and teams for the next decade. They’ll also get hands-on workshops on developing leadership and “managing up.”


What words of advice do you have for the fellows as they prepare to go through the program?

Be really present during the in-residency classroom weeks, because your day job will still be waiting for you. Think of the other participants as a learning and sharing opportunity that can become a professional support network during the year and beyond. And have strong beliefs (about your project or the news business), but hold them loosely, so you can embrace new ideas and solutions.


Caption: Our 2019-2020 Fellows, as pictured from left to right, starting from the top left: Gyanu Adhikari, Phillip O’Sullivan, Akane Imamura, Betina Hughes, Danielle Cronin, Marium Chaudhry, Nitya Thirumalai, Hyuntaek Lee, Ragamalika Karthikeyan, Yusuf Wijanarko, Anisa Menur Maulani, and Lynn D’Cruz.

“Great Sporting Land” tours Australia’s sports-mad history

Australians have a passion for sports—so much that it was perfectly normal for the Prime Minister to give the entire country the day off when they won a boat race back in 1983. Over generations, Australia’s favorite pastimes have shaped the country’s identity, values and culture. Along with the Melbourne Cricket Club, Australian Football League, National Portrait Gallery and the North Bondi Surf Lifesaving Club, Google Arts & Culture is showcasing the people, moments and places that led Australia to become the “Great Sporting Land” it is today. 

The exhibition features over 11,000 archived images and videos, and more than 100 original stories from more than 30 partners. To do so, Google’s Art Camera technology has been on a marathon between sporting institutions across the country to capture over 200 pieces of art, archival materials and artifacts in high resolution gigapixel quality.

Join cricket legend Steve Waugh who will take you on a tour of the archives of the world-famous Bradman Museumwhere you can zoom in to the hand-etched scores on the back of Don Bradman’s first bat. Or take a trip to a changing room at The Sydney Cricket Ground, where visiting players have drawn their standout batting and bowling figures on the changing room door. You can also follow Steve Waugh through a video seriesthat offers never-before-seen insight into his work and memories of the sport. 

Then put on your cossies or your togs (swimwear) to feel the vibes of a trip into Summers Past from the National Archives of Australia —an exhibition celebrating the golden days in the Australian sunshine. The surf’s up when you Watch the Waves, a selection of photographs by the National Archives, or explore the North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club in Google Street View.


For Australians, sports are a part of national identity, pride and belonging, whether played by everyday people or world known icons. To discover more moments from Australia’s sporting history by visiting g.co/GreatSportingLand, or download the Google Arts & Culture app on iOS or Android.

Tackling cardiovascular disease with AI

Westmead team with Google’s Mel Silva and Australian Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Hon Karen Andrews MP


Heart disease and cardiovascular health are a major challenge around the world, and in Australia, one in six people is affected by cardiovascular disease. The University of Sydney’s Westmead Applied Research Centre is working on a digital health program for people at risk of cardiovascular disease, and they recently received a $1 million Google.org grant that will help them apply AI to give patients more personalised advice and support.  

We sat down with Professor Clara Chow, Professor of Medicine and Academic Director at Westmead Applied Research Centre, and Dr. Harry Klimis, a cardiologist and Westmead PhD student, to hear more about the program.   

Why is cardiac health such a big issue? 

Professor Chow: Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of premature death and disability worldwide. In Australia, cardiovascular disease affects approximately 4.2 million people, has resulted in more than 1 million hospitalizations, and caused 1 in 3 deaths in 2016. That’s one death every 12 minutes, and these deaths are largely preventable.

How are you proposing to address this problem? 

Chow: Our goal is to support people at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease by encouraging them to adopt healthy habits, such as diet and exercise, and connecting them to health services when they need them. Data and mobile technology means we can do this in ways that weren’t possible before. 

Dr Klimis: We’ve already developed mobile health text-message programs using basic algorithms to customise programs to individuals. We now plan to use machine learning and AI to keep improving how we support participants and help them self-monitor measures like cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, physical activity, diet and smoking.

How will you use the funding and support from Google.org? 

Chow: The grant will help us create digital tools that enable clinicians and health services to provide personalized advice without the need to meet face to face. Initially, we’ll link data from existing secondary sources like hospital and clinic presentations to create programs tailored to individuals, and the system will learn from there. 

How does AI help?  

Klimis: An example would be if “John” went to the emergency room at hospital with chest pain and had type 2 diabetes, obesity and hypertension. After being assessed and treated, he could be flagged as a patient at high risk of heart attack and added to the mobile health prevention program. The AI program would learn from John’s activities and deliver health advice via SMS or through an app. If John was less active at a particular time of day, the program might register this and prompt him to take a 5-minute walk. 

What do you think is going to be the most challenging part of your project?

Klimis: Making sure we have reliable enough data to support a program capable of AI and machine learning. Our original program sent out standard text messages to over 3000 people, which allowed us—with their permission—to collect data on their characteristics, how they respond to different messages, and how this affects health outcomes. That data will be crucial in building an AI model for the current project.  

What are you most optimistic about?

Chow: We have the potential to help more people at risk of cardiovascular disease by giving them high-quality prevention programs developed by clinicians and researchers, without requiring frequent clinic or hospital visits. Over the long term, mobile and digital health solutions could reduce hospitalizations, bring down healthcare costs, and make healthcare more accessible.  


To reduce plastic waste in Indonesia, one startup turns to AI

In Indonesia, plastic waste poses a major challenge. With 50,000 km of coastline and a lack of widespread public awareness of waste management across the archipelago, much of Indonesia’s trash could end up in the ocean. Gringgo Indonesia Foundation has started tackling this problem using technology—and more recently, with a little help from Google. 


Earlier this year, Gringgo was named one of 20 grantees of the Google AI Impact Challenge. In addition to receiving $500,000 of funding from Google.org, Gringgo is part of our Launchpad Accelerator program that gives them guidance and resources to jumpstart their work. 


We sat down with Febriadi Pratama, CTO & co-founder at Gringgo, to find out how this so-called “trash tech start-up” plans to change waste management in Indonesia with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). 

Gringgo Foundation team

The team at Gringgo Indonesia Foundation.

Why is plastic waste such a problem for Indonesia? 
In the past 30 years, Indonesia  has become overwhelmed by plastic waste. Sadly, we haven’t found a solution to deal with this waste across our many islands. 


The topography of Indonesia makes it more challenging to put a price on recyclables. It consists of more than 17,000 islands with 5 major islands, but most recycling facilities are based on the mainland of Java. This makes transporting recyclables from other islands expensive, so materials with low value aren’t sorted and end up polluting the environment.  


To add to the complexity, waste workers often have irregular routes and schedules, leaving many parts of the country unserviced. Workers also don’t always have the knowledge and expertise to accurately identify what can be recycled, and what recycled items are worth. Together, these factors have a devastating impact on recycling rates and the livelihood waste workers.

How are you proposing to address this problem? 
Waste workers’ livelihood depends on the volume and value of the recyclable waste they collect. We realized that giving workers tools to track their collections and productivity could boost their earning power while also helping the environment. 


We came up with the idea to build an image recognition tool that would help improve plastic recycling rates by classifying different materials and giving them a monetary value.  In turn, this will reduce ocean plastic pollution and strengthen waste management in under-resourced communities. We believe this creates a new economic model for waste management that prioritizes people and the planet. 


How does the tool work in practice? 
We launched several  apps in 2017—both for waste workers and the public. One of the apps allows waste workers to track the amount and type of waste they collect. This helps them save time by suggesting a more organized route, and manually quantify their collections and earning potential. Within a year of launching the apps, we were able to improve recycling rates by 35 percent in our first pilot village, Sanur Kaja in Bali.  We also launched an app for the public, connecting people with waste collection services for their homes.


Ussing the Gringgo mobile app

Febriadi Pratama with waste worker, Baidi, using the Gringgo mobile app

Tell us about the role that AI will play in your app? 

With Google’s support, we’re working with Indonesian startup Datanest to build an image recognition tool using Google’s machine learning platform, TensorFlow. The goal is to allow waste workers to better analyze and classify waste items, and quantify their value. 


With AI built into the app, waste workers will be able to take a photo of trash, and through image recognition, the tool will identify the items and their associated value. This will educate waste workers about the market value of materials, help them optimize their operations, and maximize their wages.  Ultimately, this will motivate waste workers to collect and process waste more efficiently, and boost recycling rates. 


So whether it’s a plastic bottle (worth Rp 2,500/kg or 18 cents/kg) or a cereal box (worth Rp 10,000/kg or 71 cents/kg), these new technologies should allow more precious materials to be sorted and reused, thereby removing the guesswork for workers and putting more money in their pockets.


Identifying waste through AI powered image recognition

A mock-up shows how Gringgo thinks the app will be able to identify waste through AI-powered image recognition

What do you aspire to achieve in the next ten years? 

Waste management issues aren’t specific to Bali or to Indonesia. We think our technology has the potential to benefit many people and places around the globe. Our goal is to improve our AI model, make it economically sustainable, and ultimately help implement it across Indonesia, Asia and around the world.


A small device that makes a world of a difference

Editor’s note: Modoo is a China-based startup that has created the smallest fetal monitoring patch in the world—and took home the Judge’s Choice award at the Google for Startups Asia Demo Day in Bangkok last week. Their founder shares his story of the company. 

If I had to sum up my approach as an entrepreneur, it’s that I simply want to use technology to help people. I’d spent years developing technology for fun, or for leisure. And then the unthinkable happened—a very good friend of mine lost her baby just two days before her due date. She was young and healthy, and they had no reason to think that anything could go wrong. It was heartbreaking. 

Seeing her go through that experience made me want to learn more about what was available for expectant mothers. I didn’t find much. I remember thinking, “Wow, I’m an engineer developing cool gadgets, but there’s no technology to help expectant mothers through probably the most anxiety-ridden stage of their lives.” I wanted to do more. 

I founded Modoo in 2015. We created the smallest fetal monitoring patch in the world to help mothers-to-be monitor their unborn baby’s movement and heartbeat anytime. It connects with an app that provides information and health advice, and through AI, we can detect complications early, to prevent fetal distress. 

I was shocked when they called out Modoo as the winner of Google for Startups Demo Day in Bangkok last week. Demo Day brings together talented entrepreneurs giving them the opportunity to shine, connect, and realize visions to solve big problems. I’d spent a few days with the 11 other teams, and saw how they had achieved amazing progress and made a huge impact on society. I remember thinking it would be tough for the judges to make a decision!

Modoo at Demo Day Asia 2019

From left to right: Jeffrey Paine (Golden Gate Ventures), Shannon Kalayanamitr (Gobi Partners), Jilliang Ma (Founder, Modoo), Justin Nguyen (Monk's Hill Ventures) and Michael Kim (Google for Startups)

But then I thought about our journey and the impact we’ve made. We’ve already served 60,000 mothers and given them much-needed peace of mind. And with the help of early detection of fetal distress through our technology, we’ve helped save the lives of 87 babies. The mission to save lives and make life better is what drives my team and me. 

What’s next? We want to take our product to more parts of the globe, and are looking at ways to help mothers monitor their health postpartum, as well as ways to monitor the health of babies and young children. 

Google for Startups Demo Day reaffirmed my passion, and gave me a platform for more people to learn about the work that we’re doing. It was also inspiring to meet other entrepreneurs from all over the region, who are similarly passionate and mission-driven. Our ideas will change the world. 


A small device that makes a world of a difference

Editor’s note: Modoo is a China-based startup that has created the smallest fetal monitoring patch in the world—and took home the Judge’s Choice award at the Google for Startups Asia Demo Day in Bangkok last week. Their founder shares his story of the company. 

If I had to sum up my approach as an entrepreneur, it’s that I simply want to use technology to help people. I’d spent years developing technology for fun, or for leisure. And then the unthinkable happened—a very good friend of mine lost her baby just two days before her due date. She was young and healthy, and they had no reason to think that anything could go wrong. It was heartbreaking. 

Seeing her go through that experience made me want to learn more about what was available for expectant mothers. I didn’t find much. I remember thinking, “Wow, I’m an engineer developing cool gadgets, but there’s no technology to help expectant mothers through probably the most anxiety-ridden stage of their lives.” I wanted to do more. 

I founded Modoo in 2015. We created the smallest fetal monitoring patch in the world to help mothers-to-be monitor their unborn baby’s movement and heartbeat anytime. It connects with an app that provides information and health advice, and through AI, we can detect complications early, to prevent fetal distress. 

I was shocked when they called out Modoo as the winner of Google for Startups Demo Day in Bangkok last week. Demo Day brings together talented entrepreneurs giving them the opportunity to shine, connect, and realize visions to solve big problems. I’d spent a few days with the 11 other teams, and saw how they had achieved amazing progress and made a huge impact on society. I remember thinking it would be tough for the judges to make a decision!

Modoo at Demo Day Asia 2019

From left to right: Jeffrey Paine (Golden Gate Ventures), Shannon Kalayanamitr (Gobi Partners), Jilliang Ma (Founder, Modoo), Justin Nguyen (Monk's Hill Ventures) and Michael Kim (Google for Startups)

But then I thought about our journey and the impact we’ve made. We’ve already served 60,000 mothers and given them much-needed peace of mind. And with the help of early detection of fetal distress through our technology, we’ve helped save the lives of 87 babies. The mission to save lives and make life better is what drives my team and me. 

What’s next? We want to take our product to more parts of the globe, and are looking at ways to help mothers monitor their health postpartum, as well as ways to monitor the health of babies and young children. 

Google for Startups Demo Day reaffirmed my passion, and gave me a platform for more people to learn about the work that we’re doing. It was also inspiring to meet other entrepreneurs from all over the region, who are similarly passionate and mission-driven. Our ideas will change the world. 


Growing into a mom and CEO

Editor’s Note: Lee Da-rang is a graduate of the Campus for Moms program at Campus in Seoul, a hub run by Google for Startups where entrepreneurs can discover a supportive community, work on their big idea, and gain access to resources like mentorship and technical training. Recently, the author and six other Campus for Moms graduates published a book about their experience.


I’ll be honest, I was a bit overwhelmed as a new mom. I found it hard to reconcile my former work as a counselor with this new role as a mom, which I felt ill-prepared for. I blogged about my experience and found a community online, which became the inspiration for my business. My idea was to create an online community for parents that offers training and solutions to guide them through the many choices, challenges, and joys of parenthood.

But growing an idea into a successful online business is not easy, especially with my hands full as a busy mom. I had no idea where to start. One day, I happened upon Campus for Moms, a program operated by the Google for Startups Campus in Korea. The program provided training and mentorship to help you start your business, but they also gave us support, like childcare services, so that parents can fully dive into their work, while having their child nearby. It was just what I was looking for. The Campus for Moms program taught me different things every week—from customer outreach and marketing, to product development and investment. Little by little, I received the training and feedback to help my little business idea flourish.

The part of the program I remember most vividly is going out onto the streets of Seoul and interviewing potential customers as part of the market research training module. Talking with strangers on the street about my potential business was no easy task. But the feedback from these everyday people, and the survey data I collected during the program, provided invaluable insights. And perhaps more importantly, by explaining my business to others, I eventually developed the courage needed to actually make my idea a reality.  

Today, I’m the CEO of a flourishing business. Growing Mom has more than 40,000 social media followers, and we employ regular data management and analysis to constantly improve (a bit more sophisticated than my woman-on-the-street interviews!). We work with trusted psychology and education professionals to provide parents with information in a creative and approachable way. In the future, I want to provide more services and offline experiences that further build community and provide support for parents.

I’m sharing my story for other new mothers who might have an idea, but feel like they don’t have what it takes to grow it into reality, especially while raising their own children. It was Campus for Moms, and the community that shared the experience with me, that gave me the courage to take that leap, and the skills I needed to grow into the mother and the CEO I am today.


Demo Day Asia 2019: the countdown to Bangkok begins

Top-notch startups from all over the region applied to be a part of our second Demo Day Asia, with ideas ranging from an imaging device for early breast cancer detection to making solar energy more accessible while improving education opportunities for kids. This year, we’re pleased to welcome eleven startups from around the region as finalists. Drumroll please…

Demo Day Asia finalists 2019

Demo Day Asia 2019 finalists include Anywhr (Singapore), Glazziq (Thailand), Kyna (Vietnam), Lily Medtech (Japan), Matelabs (India), Modoo (China), Soundbrenner (Hong Kong), Talkiplay (Australia), Tello Talk (Pakistan), Wahyoo (Indonesia), Yolk (Korea) 

The finalists will travel to Bangkok next month where they’ll take part in our Google for Startups Demo Day at the Techsauce Global Summit. As part of this, they’ll experience three days of mentorship, programming and networking to help them grow their businesses. This will culminate in a much anticipated pitch, where the finalists will have a chance to share their business propositions with our distinguished judges, including Jeffrey Paine from Golden Gate Ventures, Justin Nguyen from Monk's Hill Ventures, and Shannon Kalayanamitr from GOBI Partners.  

As we saw at our first ever Demo Day Asia last year, there’s no shortage of ideas coming from this part of the world. We’re thrilled to give these talented entrepreneurs the opportunity to shine, to connect them with top investors, and help them realize their visions to solve big problems. Our countdown to Bangkok is on, and we can’t wait to highlight and support the next great tech champions of the region.

Level up on Android with Indie Games Accelerator

Games are a powerful medium of creative expression, and at Google Play we’re inspired by the passion of game developers everywhere. Last year we announced the Indie Games Accelerator, a special edition of Launchpad Accelerator, to help top indie game developers from emerging markets achieve their full potential on Google Play.

Google Play | Indie Games Accelerator 2018

Our team of program mentors coached some of the best gaming talent from India, Pakistan and Southeast Asia. Thanks to the positive feedback we received around the program, we are bringing it back in 2019. Applications for the class of 2019 are now open, and we’re expanding the program to developers from select countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.


Selected participants will be invited to attend two all-expenses-paid gaming bootcamps at the Google Asia-Pacific office in Singapore. There, they’ll receive personalized mentorship from Google teams and industry experts. Additional benefits include Google hardware, invites to exclusive Google and industry events and more.
Indie Games Accelerator journey | MochiBits (Android Developer Story)

Howard Go, the co-founder of Mochibits LLC, talks about how the program helped him improve his game's downloads and ratings.

Head to our website to find out more about our program and apply. Applications are due May 19, 2019.