The tech industry of India has been a reliable partner to most of the world’s top organisations in providing software and digital solutions, making them more competitive. The tech giant, Bosch, is one of the earliest European companies to do business in India.
RBEI (Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions) is one of the largest R&D centres in India. Most of the products which Bosch produces — from automotive components to washing machines — have SW and engineering contributions from RBEI. Currently, all of Bosch’s business, including automotive components, building technology, industrial technology and consumer goods are in India with local manufacturing.
Analytics India Magazine got in touch with Jacob Peter Kidangath, who is a Senior Vice President at Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions Private Limited. He shared insight on some of the projects they are working on, latest developments, how the tech giant is using AI and ML, challenges posed by the pandemic and more.
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Can you tell us about the current scenario of the tech industry in India?
I feel that the pandemic will accelerate the digitalisation in every field – whether it’s marketing, manufacturing or organising supply chains. With increased consumption of data, we will see an acceleration in the advent in technologies like 5G.
AI and data-based solutions have been on the upswing even before the pandemic, and its upward trajectory will continue. In the future, certain sectors like health could get the renewed focus of AI and data engineers in areas like monitoring, predicting and controlling pandemic. Of course, we will have to solve the challenge of collaboration beyond boundaries to access data for the common good of mankind.
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Tell us about your leadership role at RBEI in terms of the initiatives you are driving?
At RBEI, my team is responsible for the engineering of safety, infotainment and body electronics products for automotive. Together with teams in Germany, we work in a global development network with our centres in Vietnam and Mexico to engineer these products.
We are working on topics like autonomous driving, electric and connected mobility solutions. We are also developing convenience features like perfectly keyless entry – where the mobile phone acts as a car key and where a key could be shared over the network.
In order to engineer such products – many of which are safety-critical, we rely on a workforce with competence in domain and software. A key focus area for us is to create an environment where technical expertise is nurtured and developed.
What are some of the latest developments that RBEI is facilitating in the areas of AI, IoT, Machine Learning, etc.?
Connected cars offer a lot of convenience features like analysing our driving, booking a charging or parking slot, functions like e-call, which automatically triggers during an accident and connects the driver/occupant to a call centre and enables help in the shortest time. RBEI works on all of these features.
Bosch is one of the leading manufacturers of MEMS (micro-electronic mechanical system) sensors, the miniature sensors that are used in various devices as accelerometers, pressure sensors etc. RBEI leverages this along with its product engineering capability to build solutions like connected environment monitoring and connected healthcare products.
Connectivity between things means a lot of data that will be available for analysis. Some examples of how we use this data for predicting failures is by combining diagnostic and warranty information. By analysing unstructured data from social media regarding a certain product we can zero in early on potential usage issues.
Can you elaborate on how RBEI is using new-age technologies to develop smarter solutions for the consumers?
These are some of the products that are developed at RBEI that uses AI/ML-
- Bosch Hemoglobin Monitor Solution is a healthcare product designed to detect anaemia non-invasively. This is very useful in developing countries like India, which have a high prevalence of Anemia.
- Bosch Digital Pathology Solution uses analysis of cells using advanced ML and can aid the pathologist in a faster result. This is a connected device where the pathologist in a distant place can analyse the results.
- Another product is Phantom which is an AI-based energy optimisation platform. By connecting to the main power lines of an office or building, the AI algorithm can analyse the power usage of different devices through a signature analysis. This info can be used to recommend energy optimisation options.
How is RBEI helping to develop solutions to combat challenges posed by COVID-19?
Bosch and RBEI have been developing solutions to fight the pandemic-
- Bosch Molecular Diagnostic Solution, Vivalytic can detect a SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection in patients in under two and a half hours. Advantage of this is that it can be performed directly at the point of care.
- Bosch India developed a COVID-19 Patient Tracking Information System for the Government of Karnataka. Other than this, we used some of our production lines for making masks which are given to the employees.
What are some of the challenges that the tech community is facing in the present scenario?
Two major challenges that we face are the reduction of staff in workplaces due to social distancing and reduction in travel-
- In product engineering, we have to work a lot with hardware, both during design and validation phases. Though we have overcome this by remote connections to our lab infrastructure – in some cases, we have to be near the HW.
- Many of our projects follow an agile lifecycle like scrum. This requires the team to be together and sometimes also be at the customer’s location. Inability to travel abroad means we have to rely on alternates like video calls, which is not optimum.
What according to you will be the new normal for the tech industry in the coming future?
Work from home will be the new normal. The virtualisation of HW aiding “Hardware in the loop” and “SW in loop tests” will come in strongly, especially in product engineering areas. Another trend would be automation, in IT and ITes.
What are the technology areas in which RBEI is currently hiring?
Hiring is a constant process for us, especially in areas like AI, IoT, System Engineers and Architects. RBEI is still hiring in these areas both as lateral and from the campuses.
How important is the Indian market for RBEI and its products/ services?
Though RBEI provides solutions for the Global market and the Indian market is very important. Most of the products for the Indian market are completely engineered from here. RBEI develops India specific products across categories. Some examples for it are the India specific engine management systems for the automotive market. Many of our healthcare products like Vivascreen are global standard products developed with Indian users in mind.
What are some tips you would like to share with the deep tech startups to deal with the challenges created due to COVID-19?
This is a phase with many opportunities for tech startups. This is the time where business could see swings either way – depending on which solutions that startups are offering. It is important that they use this time to strengthen and test out the solutions – adapt it to suit the market condition. As Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”