Smartron Unveils ‘tronX’ AI-Based IoT Platform

Home-grown technology and Internet of Things (IoT) company Smartron on Thursday unveiled ‘tronX’ – an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered IoT platform that would help make users’ daily life easier and smarter.

Terming it as one of the first global technologies being developed in India, the company said ‘tronX’ is an intelligent ecosystem that helps connect a range of devices.

Built on the world of ‘Internet of Trons’, the ecosystem allows instant access to profile, data, content, services, Cloud, care, community and other IoT devices whether you are at home, in the car or at the office.

“Smartron has been working for more than two years on creating a new connected ecosystem fuelled by AI-powered ‘IoT’ and ‘tronX’ is at the core of this brave new world,” Mahesh Lingareddy, Founder and Chairman, Smarton, told IANS here.

Lingareddy added that the company was excited to unveil ‘tronX’ that is a kind of next-generation operating system designed to run seamlessly across devices.

The platform has been designed to deliver “highly intelligent and localised experiences, services and care support critical to IOT success”.

On being asked about the help Smartron took in terms of hardware and software from other players, Lingareddy said that “we already have many companies that have partnered with us in delivering innovative hardware and software solutions”.

“If your phone foresees traffic through Maps, as soon as you wake up, it will automatically notify you. The platform would switch on the geyser for you and as the system goes through your daily schedule, it will even book a cab for you,” the company executive said.

To begin with, Smartron announced four verticals that are in the works at its R&D facility and already have built in capabilities that integrate in our lives: ‘tronX Personal’, ‘tronX Health’, ‘tronX Home’ and ‘tronX Infra’.

Smartron Unveils 'tronX' AI-Based IoT Platform‘tronX Personal’ offers personalised entertainment, travel, shopping, financial, health, event, communication and collaboration experiences across devices and contexts.

With ‘tronX Health’, the system monitors and manages medical history, insurance data and offers intuitive and preventive solutions from a range of partners who are already on board.

‘tronX Home’ helps control locking mechanisms, security updates, home appliances, services like water, electricity and payment modules for these services, all available through a Voice Activated Assistant.

‘tronX Infra’ is Smartron’s B2B vertical, offering an AI-assisted system that covers a range of monitoring and management services, thus increasing productivity and security for enterprises.

Smartron was founded with a vision to build India’s first true global OEM brand to revolutionise the country’s ecosystem and create experiences that are on par with global innovations.

Electronic Frontier Foundation Slams Tech Firms for Barring Neo-Nazis

A digital rights group based in San Francisco on Thursday criticised several Internet companies for removing neo-Nazi groups from servers and services, saying the actions were “dangerous” and threatened free expression online.

GoDaddy, Alphabet’s Google, security firm Cloudflareand other technology companies moved this week to block hate groups after weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white nationalists had gathered to protest removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a park.

“We strongly believe that what GoDaddy, Google, and Cloudflare did here was dangerous,” Cindy Cohn, executive director of Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote in a blog post along with two other staffers.

The blog post reflected years-long tension in Silicon Valley, where many company executives want to distance themselves from extremists but are concerned that picking and choosing what is acceptable on their platforms could invite more regulation from governments.

“Protecting free speech is not something we do because we agree with all of the speech that gets protected,” Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote.

“We do it because the power to decide who gets to speak and who doesn’t is just too dangerous to hand to any company or any government.”

The group called on companies that manage internet domain names, including Google and GoDaddy, to “draw a hard line” and not suspend or impair domain names “based on expressive content of websites or services.”

Electronic Frontier Foundation Slams Tech Firms for Barring Neo-NazisThe blog post echoed concerns expressed by Cloudflare chief executive Matthew Prince, who on Wendnesday said he decided to drop coverage of neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer but said that his decision was conflicted.

Prince told Reuters he “wholeheartedly agreed” with the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s post and said he was hopeful it would help spark a more thoughtful debate about internet regulation.

Google and GoDaddy did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the blog made outside normal business hours.

The Daily Stormer helped organise the protest in Charlottesville, at which a 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 people were injured when a vehicle drove into counter-protesters. The website cheered the woman’s death.

It was removed from GoDaddy and Google Domains after they said they would not serve the website.

Amazon Great Indian Sale Offers: iPhones Up to 35 Percent Cheaper, Buy One TV, Get One Free, and More Deals

The sale has unofficially begun! Both Amazon and Flipkart have announced dates for their next big sales to celebrate India’s 71st Independence Day. The two e-commerce bigwigs will start their sales on Wednesday, August 9 and offer discounts on products across various categories. While the Flipkart Big Freedom Sale will last till August 11, Amazon Great Indian Sale will continue for one more day and end on 11:59pm IST on August 12. Of course, there will be early access to top deals for Prime members also in the Amazon sale, along with “blockbuster deals at never-seen-before prices.” Here’s everything you need to know about the Amazon sale offers and deals, and more details are expected as the sale draws near.

Update: The Amazon Great Indian Sale is now live, with deals on iPhone 7, Android mobile phones, TVs, and more products.

Amazon sale offers on mobile phones

In the Amazon sale, customers can get up to 40 percent discount mobiles and accessories, including up to 35 percent off on iPhones, and up to Rs. 5,000 discount on Lenovo smartphones. There will be discounts of up to Rs. 2,000 discounts on Samsung, OnePlus, and Moto phones, and up to Rs. 1,000 off on Honor models. Up to 15 percent will slashed off Coolpad phones’ prices, while InFocus phones will be up to 7 percent cheaper.

Amazon Great Indian Sale Offers: iPhones Up to 35 Percent Cheaper, Buy One TV, Get One Free, and More DealsAmazon sale offers on TVs, laptops, and more

Samsung and BPL TVs will have their prices slashed by up to 35 percent, while Sanyo and TCLtelevisions will have discounts of up to 33 percent and 15 percent, respectively. There will be a Buy-One-Get-One-Free offer on TVs for Prime members, under which customers will get a 24-inch TCL television free on purchasing a 55-inch TCL P2M television. On the TV category overall, the discounts go up to 40 percent. Laptops by Apple, Dell, Lenovo and HP will be up to 20 percent cheaper in the Amazon sale. Intel Core i3 (sixth generation) laptops will start at Rs. 22,990, and exchange offers on laptops and TVs will provide discounts of up to Rs. 15,000.

JBL speakers will have minimum discount of 45 percent, while F&D models will have discounts up to 40 percent. Similarly, Philips and Sony speakers will have discounts of up to 45 percent and 30 percent, respectively. There will be discounts of up to 60 percent on headphones brands such as Bose, Sony, Philips, Skullcandy etc. On headphones by Sennheiser, the discount is up to 50 percent. Games such as FIFA, Call of Duty and Counterstrike will carry discounts of up to 60 percent, while HTC Vive VR headset will be Rs. 5,000 cheaper in the sale.

TP-Link, D-Link, Netgear, and Digisol routers will have discounts of up to 50 percent, and powerbanks by Intex, Xiaomi, Ambrane, and Lenovo will be up to 65 percent cheaper. Gaming consoles will have minimum discount of Rs. 2,000, while Apple Watch models will be up to 20 percent cheaper. Fitbit trackers will have discounts of up to 30 percent, while Samsung weables will have a flat Rs. 2,000 discount. There will be discounts of up to 75 percent off on software products, up to 50 percent on home entertainment products and PC accessories, up to 45 percent on tablets and cameras, and up to 35 percent on printers and cartridges.

Amazon sale cashback offers

As part of the Amazon sale, there will be “Amazon Pay Balance only deals” on products by Samsung, Bose, Fitbit, LG and others, with instant 10-15 percent cashback. Customers topping up their Amazon Pay balance between August 4 and August 12 will get extra 15 percent cashback; the top-up recharge needs to be of minimum Rs. 500, and the maximum cashback will be Rs. 300. SBI credit and debit card holders can avail additional cashback of 15 percent on app and 10 percent on the website during the sale. Amazon says that there will be a 5 percent cashback on all email gift cards and up to 20 percent off on gift cards from BookMyShow, Cleartrip, Pantaloons, and Joyalukkas.

On Amazon app, customers will be able to play ‘Guess Who’ and solve puzzles in order to get a “sneak peek” at the products that will go on a deal during the actual sale event, the company said. The programme will be live on August 7 and August 8 exclusively on the app. Customers making purchases in the Amazon sale from the official app stand a chance to win iPhone 7 128GB (Black, Red, Silver and Rose Gold) as well as (up to 10) Bali trips from Goomo.com.

Indian ISPs Blocking Access to Internet Archive

Several Internet service providers in India have blocked access to Internet Archive – a non-profit organisation that runs Wayback Machine, a massive archive of webpages dating back to over a decade – many people reported on Tuesday. Internet Archive confirmed to Gadgets 360 that it is aware of the situation and eager to “see full access restored to archive.org.”

Some subscribers of Airtel, Aircel, and Act Internet, among other carriers, are seeing a DoT notification when they attempt to access Internet Archive. The notification reads, “Your requested URL has been blocked as per the directions received from Department of Telecommunications, Government of India.”

Popularly known as time-warping tool, Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine has made copies of over three billion pages over the years. In the age of ephemeral media, Way Back Machine has become a cultural phenomenon, serving as a permanent registrar of popular websites and other webpages.

Indian ISPs Blocking Access to Internet ArchiveUpdate: In a statement to Gadgets 360, a spokesperson for Internet Archive said the Government of India has not contacted them regarding this apparent blocking. “We have no information about why a block would have been implemented.”

“Multiple attempts to contact the DoT and MeitY (DeitY was the agency that ultimately ended up responding to us regarding the previous block) have gone unanswered thus far (we first tried to reach out to them about 22 hours ago),” the person added. “Obviously, we are disappointed and concerned by this situation and are very eager to understand why it’s happening and see full access restored to archive.org.”

It remains unclear why DoT has ordered access to Internet Archive to be canned, a development that was first reported by MediaNama.

While several carriers including Vodafone and Reliance Jio have not yet blocked Internet Archive, they will likely follow the suit soon enough. ISPs in India often take actions on such directions at their own pace.

Amazon Sued by Transgender Woman, Husband for Workplace Harassment

A transgender woman and her husband sued Amazon.com on Wednesday, accusing the company of subjecting them to severe harassment and physical threats when they both worked at the retailer’s warehouse in Kentucky.

A group representing the couple said their case was striking given the Seattle-based company’s vocal support of LGBT rights.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Kentucky said Allegra Schawe-Lane was subjected to taunts such as “shemale” and “crossdresser” from coworkers. She and her husband Dane Lane also received crass comments about their sex life, it said.

The couple lodged a series of complaints with supervisors during the year they worked at the Hebron, Kentucky warehouse, but the company took no action, the lawsuit said.

Supervisors joined in the harassment and were instructed to “watch them closely.” The two feared for their lives after a coworker cut the brake lines on their car, according to the lawsuit. The couple quit their jobs in 2015 following the incidents.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.

Amazon Sued by Transgender Woman, Husband for Workplace HarassmentThe lawsuit comes after Amazon, one of the United States’ largest companies, was lauded by civil rights groups for their drama Transparent, one of the first series to feature a transgender lead character.

“We call on Amazon to examine the disconnect between the message of its hit show Transparent and the discrimination perpetrated against Allegra and Dane,” said Jillian Weiss, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, which is representing the couple in the lawsuit, and which gave Transparent an award in 2015.

Lane and Schawe-Lane say Amazon violated federal and Kentucky laws banning sex discrimination in the workplace. Several federal courts have ruled that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is a form of unlawful sex bias.

Schawe-Lane also says Amazon violated the Americans with Disabilities Act because supervisors viewed her gender dysphoria as a disability.

The case is Lane v. Amazon.com KYDC LLC, US District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, No. 2:17-cv-00134.

Flipkart Announces Funding from SoftBank, Calls It ‘Biggest Private Investment in an Indian Tech Company’

In a statement on Thursday, Flipkart announced an investment from the SoftBank Vision Fund, as a part of Flipkart’s previously announced round of financing. In its statement, Flipkart pointed out that this is the biggest ever private investment in an Indian technology company, and will make the SoftBank Vision Fund one of the largest shareholders in Flipkart.

With this, Flipkart will now have over $4 billion (approximately Rs. 25,585 crores) in cash on its balance sheet, the company stated. This includes the rest of the funds raised in the latest round, which includes investment from Microsoft, eBay, and Tencent.

In a prepared statement, co-founders Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal said: “This is a monumental deal for Flipkart and India. Very few economies globally attract such overwhelming interest from top-tier investors. It is recognition of India’s unparalleled potential to become a leader in technology and e-commerce on a massive scale. SoftBank’s proven track record of partnering with transformative technology leaders has earned it the reputation of being a visionary investor. We’re excited to welcome the Vision Fund as a long-term partner as we continue to build our business with a focus on serving the needs of all Indians, and driving the next phase of technology adoption in India.”

Flipkart Announces Funding from SoftBank, Calls It 'Biggest Private Investment in an Indian Tech Company'In recent times, Flipkart also completed the acquisition of eBay India, and was reportedly in talks to acquire Snapdeal. SoftBank is one of the lead investors in Snapdeal, though the day after Snapdeal announced that it terminated talks with Flipkart, it emerged that SoftBank was looking to invest in Flipkart.

“India is a land of vast opportunity,” said Masayoshi Son, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of SoftBank Group. “We want to support innovative companies that are clear winners in India because they are best positioned to leverage technology and help people lead better lives. As the pioneers in Indian e-commerce, Flipkart is doing that every day.”

“The Vision Fund is proud to be part of this landmark transaction which is a strong endorsement of India and its thriving economy,” added Rajeev Misra, CEO of the SoftBank Vision Fund. “We look forward to being a part of Flipkart’s journey towards becoming one of the most successful e-commerce companies in the world.”

Microsoft’s Coco Framework Aims to Speed Up Blockchain and Its Adoption

Microsoft is working on technology that it believes can make blockchain-based systems faster and more private, as it looks to speed up use of the distributed database software by enterprises.

The company said on Thursday that it had developed a system called Coco Framework, which connects to different blockchain networks to solve some of the issues that have slowed down their adoption, including speed and privacy concerns.

Coco, whose names stands for Confidential Consortium, will be ready and made open source by 2018, Microsoft said.

It is currently compatible with Ethereum, one of the most popular types of blockchains and can make it roughly 100 times faster, Microsoft said.

“We expect this to be the foundation for blockchain for enterprise,” Mark Russinovich, chieftechnology officer of Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing division, said at a press briefing. “We think blockchain is going to potentially transform every industry.”

Large businesses, including many of the world’s biggest banks, have been investing in blockchain in the hopes that it can help simplify and reduce the costs of some of their data-heavy processes.

The technology, which first emerged as the system underpinning crypto-currency Bitcoin, is a shared public record of data that is maintained by a network of computers on the Internet. This means every user on a network could potentially have access to all information.

While this makes the technology well-suited at ensuring the information’s integrity, it also makes it inadequate for use by big businesses with strict data privacy requirements.

Microsoft's Coco Framework Aims to Speed Up Blockchain and Its AdoptionMicrosoft’s technology would make it easier for firms to control who can see what on a network without making the system slower.

The company plans to offer Coco for free, although it hopes that it will lead to more use of its cloud services.

It is being built in part with Intel hardware and will be compatible with all types of blockchains.

Planned adopters include Corda, the blockchain of bank consortium R3, Intel’s blockchain Sawtooth and Quorum, the blockchain developed by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

While the technology continues to draw interest from large firms, experts and skeptics caution that it is still in its early days and it may take years before its benefits are reaped.

Microsoft’s system can process around 1,600 transactions per second. By comparison the network of payment card provider Visa can handle up to 24,000 transactions per second.

BSE Alerts Market Entities Against Malicious Software Script

After NSE, leading bourse BSE on Friday alerted market entities to guard against a ‘malicious software script’ that targets critical sectors like energy and finance to steal information from PCs and pass them on to adversaries outside the country.

The BSE – formerly known as Bombay Stock Exchange – asked market entities to take measures to mitigate the threat.

Yesterday, National Stock Exchange (NSE) issued a similar alert against the ‘malicious software script’.

Recently, a slew of dreaded ransomware attacks like WannaCry and Petya have impacted the computer systems worldwide.

The alert follows a communique from National Cyber Security Coordinator regarding a highly suspicious communication being observed on the Internet in the country.

“An advanced software script (malware) is associated in such suspicious communication which is specifically targeting critical sectors which predominantly include energy and finance.

“The software infects devices to get foothold in the ICT networks/ systems, steals information, passwords and pass over to the adversaries outside the country,” BSE said in a circular.

According to the exchange, the software script has the capability to encrypt entire information on the computer system. In some cases, the data hosted or stored on the computer terminals may be lost permanently.

BSE Alerts Market Entities Against Malicious Software Script“The infected files reappear again and again. The software script connects to a malicious domain, the location of which keeps on changing in Germany and Russia,” it added.

In order to prevent infection, BSE has advised users and organisations to update their Windowssoftware, check security solutions and ensure they have backup in place.

It also advised users to refrain from clicking on suspicious emails and regularly update the security patches on their PCs. Besides, antivirus updates need to be pushed to all end-users and servers.

The bourse advised organisations to “audit their ICT network and systems with respect to the upgrades and updates of anti-virus, operating system and other software and apply upgrades and updates immediately”.

Last month, BSE and NSE had asked trading members to take urgent steps to safeguard their systems from Petya ransomware, which has impacted companies across the globe.

In May, the exchanges issued a similar advisory about dreaded ransomware WannaCry that affected systems in over 100 countries.

China Says Investigating Baidu, Tencent, Weibo for Breaching Cyber Laws

China’s cyber regulator on Friday said it was investigating the country’s top social media sites over failing to comply with strict laws that ban content which is violent, obscene or deemed offensive to the Communist Party.

The Cyberspace Administration said it was investigating Tencent Holdings’ WeChat, Weibo and Baidu’s forum site Tieba over suspected violations of the country’s strict cyber-security laws.

“Users are spreading violence, terror, false rumours, pornography and other hazards to national security, public safety, social order,” the regulator said on its website.

The companies did not immediately respond to emails and phone calls seeking comment on the probe.

This is the latest in a series of regulatory actions against the country’s top tech firms as China’s cyber authorities adopt an increasingly hardened stance on censorship, doling out harsh punishments to firms that fail to comply.

China Says Investigating Baidu, Tencent, Weibo for Breaching Cyber LawsCyber surveillance is being tightened further ahead of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China expected to be held later this year, when global attention will be on news coming from the world’s second-biggest economy.

Last month, cyber authorities called on the same firms to carry out immediate “cleaning and rectification” at a meeting with their representatives, where the authorities cited specific examples of illicit content, including rumours about party officials and misrepresenting Chinese military history.

Prior to the meeting, Weibo was ordered to partially close its video site over violations, wiping out a combined $1.3 billion worth of stock between Weibo and parent firm Sina Corp.

Messaging app WeChat and microblogging service Weibo are China’s most popular social media platforms, and have thrived due to the absence of western competitors like Facebook and Twitter that are banned by the country’s censors.

WeChat and Weibo have about 940 million and 350 million monthly active users, respectively.

Amazon Said to Be in Talks to Offer Event Ticketing in the US

Amazon.com is seeking to partner with US venue owners to sell event tickets, four sources have told Reuters, a move that could loosen Ticketmaster’s powerful grip on the lucrative ticketing business.

If Amazon moves ahead, it would represent the latest attempt by the world’s largest online retailer to use its massive customer base, tech savvy and bargaining power to shake up a big market.

The Seattle-based company sees the US ticketing market as ripe for attack. Consumers dislike ticket fees, and venue owners, sports leagues and teams want more distributors for their tickets as they seek to boost sales.

Access to tickets could be another means to lure members to the Amazon Prime shopping club. For music acts and sports teams, selling tickets through Amazon could help sell their merchandise.

Currently Ticketmaster, owned by Live Nation Entertainment, is the exclusive seller of primary tickets for many top venues in the United States. Would-be challengers have struggled to compete in the face of Ticketmaster’s strong relationships with the operators of major US sports stadiums, arenas, concert halls and other venues.

Amazon has had success with ticketing in Britain, where it has been selling seats to West End shows since 2015, even outselling Ticketmaster for some events, according to one of the sources, who owns venues in that country. It is less common for venues in Britain to have an exclusive ticket provider.

Amazon did not return a request for comment. Live Nation declined to comment.

Live Nation’s shares, which had been up more than 12 percent earlier on Thursday after the company’s quarterly results, pared gains following the Reuters report and briefly turned negative. The shares recovered to close up 5.6 percent in the stock’s busiest trading day by volume since June 2014. Amazon shares closed down 2.6 percent.

Amazon Said to Be in Talks to Offer Event Ticketing in the USProfit generator
Amazon has had conversations to partner with Ticketmaster as a potential way to get into ticketing in the United States, but those conversations have stalled over who would control customer data, according to sources with knowledge of the conversations.

Ticketing would likely make money for Amazon, which has a patchy record of profitability. Ticketmaster generated $1.6 billion in revenue from initial sales of tickets to events in 2016, according to estimates by research firm BTIG. That figure does not include revenue from the reselling of tickets, which BTIG estimates at $250 million.

Amazon has approached at least one league about selling tickets on the secondary market as well, one of the sources said, a business like eBay’s StubHub.

Getting a foothold in the ticketing business would likely be an expensive proposition. Ticketmaster in many cases pays the venues for the right to sell tickets and manage the box office, and venue owners are loath to give up that revenue even when it means high ticketing fees for consumers.

Amazon has offered to write sponsorship checks worth millions of dollars to the venues, one of the sources said. But it has yet to budge on customer data. Owners want to know who is buying their tickets so they can tailor social media campaigns and book the right acts in the right places.

Amazon has made a number of moves to get more customers to its website and subscribe to Prime. Earlier this year, it agreed to pay about $50 million to the US National Football League to livestream this season’s 10 Thursday night games, sources have told Reuters.

“It’s all about Prime,” said Brandon Ross, an analyst at BTIG. “The reason they are spending multiple billions of dollars a year on programming is to get more Prime subscribers and engage more consumers.”