Tag Archives: Google in Asia

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.


Take a walk through Kakadu on Google Street View

In Australia’s Top End, you will find the country’s largest national park: Kakadu National Park. Covering almost 20,000 square kilometers (about half the size of Switzerland) and with terrain encompassing wetlands, rivers and sandstone escarpments, it’s home to the world’s oldest living culture with more than a dozen Indigenous groups. One-third of Australia’s bird species, an estimated 10,000 crocodiles and approximately 2,000 plant species can also be found in the Park.


Today, on its 40th anniversary, we're inviting people across the world to visit Kakadu National Park on Google Street View—to walk through ancient “stone country”, stare at spectacular waterfalls and discover ancient rock art.
Street View Trekker at Nawurlandja

Google Street View Trekker taking in the panoramas at Nawurlandja. 

Considered a living cultural landscape, Kakadu National Park’s geological history spans more than two billion years. The Park is a place that boasts extraordinary archaeological sites that record the skills and ways of life of the region’s Aboriginal people, whose culture stretches back more than 65,000 years. The Street View journey captures a glimpse of this world, uncovering rock art galleries and stunning vistas across eight sites.

Anja Toms from Kakadu National Park

Anja Toms from Kakadu National Park explains the significance of rock art at Burrungkuy (Nourlangie).

Viewers can journey to Ubirr for incredible 360-degree views, or to take a look at rock art galleries that record animal life in the region going back thousands of years. This includes a painting of a thylacine—or Tasmanian Tiger—depicted before they became extinct on the mainland around 2,000 years ago.

Kakadu National Park Rangers

Sean Nadji and Fred Hunter, Kakadu National Park Rangers, look out over Ubirr.

You can also meander through towering sandstone pillars at Bardedjilidji, travel to Nawurlandja for world-class panoramas across Anbangbang Billabong and the Arnhem Land escarpment, and toward Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) where you can view rock art galleries, before cooling off in the pristine plunge pools at Maguk or Gunlom (one of the most popular sites for travellers looking to take a refreshing dip), then diving into Kakadu’s big waterfalls: Twin Falls and Jim Jim Falls.

This journey through Kakadu National Park is a continuation of our work with Traditional Owners, Tourism Northern Territory and Parks Australia to record and share sacred sites, and instill greater value and respect for the land—which began in 2017 with Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park.

Visit Kakadu National Park, dual-listed by UNESCO World Heritage for both its natural and cultural significance, on Google Street View to learn more about the world’s oldest living culture and their connection with the land.


Source: Google LatLong


Take a walk through Kakadu on Google Street View

In Australia’s Top End, you will find the country’s largest national park: Kakadu National Park. Covering almost 20,000 square kilometers (about half the size of Switzerland) and with terrain encompassing wetlands, rivers and sandstone escarpments, it’s home to the world’s oldest living culture with more than a dozen Indigenous groups. One-third of Australia’s bird species, an estimated 10,000 crocodiles and approximately 2,000 plant species can also be found in the Park.


Today, on its 40th anniversary, we're inviting people across the world to visit Kakadu National Park on Google Street View—to walk through ancient “stone country”, stare at spectacular waterfalls and discover ancient rock art.
Street View Trekker at Nawurlandja

Google Street View Trekker taking in the panoramas at Nawurlandja. 

Considered a living cultural landscape, Kakadu National Park’s geological history spans more than two billion years. The Park is a place that boasts extraordinary archaeological sites that record the skills and ways of life of the region’s Aboriginal people, whose culture stretches back more than 65,000 years. The Street View journey captures a glimpse of this world, uncovering rock art galleries and stunning vistas across eight sites.

Anja Toms from Kakadu National Park

Anja Toms from Kakadu National Park explains the significance of rock art at Burrungkuy (Nourlangie).

Viewers can journey to Ubirr for incredible 360-degree views, or to take a look at rock art galleries that record animal life in the region going back thousands of years. This includes a painting of a thylacine—or Tasmanian Tiger—depicted before they became extinct on the mainland around 2,000 years ago.

Kakadu National Park Rangers

Sean Nadji and Fred Hunter, Kakadu National Park Rangers, look out over Ubirr.

You can also meander through towering sandstone pillars at Bardedjilidji, travel to Nawurlandja for world-class panoramas across Anbangbang Billabong and the Arnhem Land escarpment, and toward Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) where you can view rock art galleries, before cooling off in the pristine plunge pools at Maguk or Gunlom (one of the most popular sites for travellers looking to take a refreshing dip), then diving into Kakadu’s big waterfalls: Twin Falls and Jim Jim Falls.

This journey through Kakadu National Park is a continuation of our work with Traditional Owners, Tourism Northern Territory and Parks Australia to record and share sacred sites, and instill greater value and respect for the land—which began in 2017 with Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park.

Visit Kakadu National Park, dual-listed by UNESCO World Heritage for both its natural and cultural significance, on Google Street View to learn more about the world’s oldest living culture and their connection with the land.


Source: Google LatLong


Bringing digital and media literacy education to more schools in Korea

Three years ago, the Center for Digital Literacy (CDL) embarked on a pilot program to bring digital and media literacy skills to junior high school students in schools across Seoul and Gyeonggi provinces. Through the Digital & Media Literacy Campus program, kids like Yang Chaemin have learned how to better evaluate online media sources and also to experience the fun and excitement that digital technologies like AR and VR have to offer.

Jacquelline Fuller at Geumho Girls Middle School

Here, I’m with Yang Chaemin and her classmates at Geumho Girls Middle School, where they’re learning to critically interpret online resources and are able to practice using a range of digital tools.

Two years ago, with a grant from Google.org, CDL was able to expand the program. Since then, they’ve reached 10,000 children across 200 schools. CDL has also delivered training to a thousand parents, equipping them with tips to help their kids use digital media. Working with parents is important because developing awareness for opportunities that technology creates often starts at home.

Given the incredible impact CDL has had over the last two years, we recently extended our support for CDL. Through an additional grant, CDL will now bring the program to another 7,000 students and train 600 more teachers across Korea. In this phase, they’ll especially focus on bringing the program to children in rural areas, where there are often fewer opportunities to access digital education.

Over the past few years, Google.org has had an incredible opportunity to support a number of education programs in Korea. Whether it's investing in digital literacy as we’ve done through CDL, or inspiring innovative thinking among children at the Gwacheon National Science Museum, we hope these efforts will equip more Korean youth with the inspiration, skills and knowledge to reach their potential.


Yeseo Yoo at Hanbada Middle School

“It was a miracle that I could have the opportunity to learn about digital literacy at my school. Through this class, I was able to do what I thought only adults could do and only professionals could do. I've experienced augmented reality, and I've designed a virtual reality space with my friends. The most interesting thing for me was big data analysis and infographic video production. Now I dream of becoming a software developer, creating something that didn't exist today and contributing to a beautiful world."  — Yeseo Yoo, 15-year old student at Hanbada Middle School, who attended CDL's program in 2018

More growth ahead in Taiwan

One year ago, we laid out our roadmap for supporting the growth of an Intelligent Taiwan, with an emphasis on investing in Taiwanese talent. Since then, we’ve reached our goal to train 50,000 businesses and students in digital marketing, and 5,000 students in artificial intelligence (AI) programming.


Here are six further commitments announced at our Google for Taiwan this week, outlining how we’re helping Taiwanese people and businesses make the most of the digital economy.


More room to grow and innovate


1. New campus. Taiwan is already our largest engineering site in Asia, and now we’re investing in a new campus located in New Taipei City, an emerging hub for innovation. This is a great opportunity to bring teams together and provide room for continued growth. The new space will allow us to more than double the size of our team here in the coming years, helping us continue to work on offering the best Google experiences via our hardware and software to people all around the world.


Visiting the site of our new office

With Douglas Tong Hsu, Chairman of the Far Eastern Group (middle), and Rick Osterloh, our SVP of Devices & Services (right), visiting the site of our new office

Investing in innovators of the future


2. Engaging local talent.There is so much incredible talent waiting to be tapped in Taiwan. That’s why we’re focused on reaching more people in the industry, especially students, and sharing more about career opportunities in technology. We’re increasing our industry outreach in 2019, holding more on-campus events, offering hardware and engineering internship opportunities and deepening engagement and collaboration with college professors. We’re particularly focused on identifying and encouraging women to apply for technology roles. We plan to hire hundreds of employees in Taiwan in 2019.


3. Training. Our Grow with Google initiative will build on our momentum from 2018 and train another 10,000 people in AI programming, 100,000 people in digital marketing and 20,000 developers in AI and cloud by 2020.


4. STEM and CS education. Google.org is making a grant to Junyi Academy to help bridge the K-12 STEM education gap in Taiwan. Through this grant, the academy will be able to provide disadvantaged Taiwanese youth with access to a broader range of STEM and computer science education materials. Thanks to an upgraded online platform, those materials will be  tailored to their individual learning needs. This will be accompanied by on-the-job education programs to better equip teachers—especially those in rural areas—to deliver more impactful trainings for their students.


Opening opportunities for local businesses and job-seekers


5. Helping local businesses go global. We worked with the think tank Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (TIER) to release “Taiwan Go Global,” a report that shares insights for Taiwan businesses that are considering  exporting globally. It looks at market dynamics across four sectors (travel, mobile gaming, e-commerce, technology) in Southeast Asian countries and uses data from Google Search, Google Consumer Surveys and Taiwan government public reports to provide insights for local companies.


6. New job search experience in Taiwan.We’re also introducing a new job search experience to Taiwan, making it easier for job seekers to find employment opportunities through popular websites, job listing platforms, online classifieds and corporate sites. Now, when people enter a job-seeking query in Google Search, they will be able to explore, research and find job listings from across the web, such as 104.com.tw, 1111.com.tw, 518.com.tw, or yes123.com.tw.


We’re excited about supporting the continued growth of an Intelligent Taiwan. Going forward, we’ll continue to expand our presence, making investments to support continued growth and training Taiwanese innovators of the future.