A Smart Mask From Japan That Translates Speech As Well

A Smart Mask From Japan That Translates Speech

Japanese researchers in a startup, Donut Robotics have managed to create a smart mask that connects to smartphones via bluetooth and lets users make calls remotely, without directly using a phone. It can be the start of an everyday gadget that can help us fight against Covid-19.

Crux of the Matter

C-Mask for C-oronavirus
The internet-connected mask has a built-in speaker, that amplifies the wearer’s voice and can translate speech into 8 different languages including English, Chinese, Spanish, French, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, and Indonesian.

Additionally, it is also capable of sending text messages via speech, making both calls and messaging a touch-free operation. Dubbed as the ‘C-Mask’, the device fits over regular masks that are fabric based. 

More Is Yet To Come
The creator behind the iconic mask, Donut Robotics’ CEO Taisuke Ono says, “We worked hard for years to develop a robot. Now we have used that technology to create a product that responds to how coronavirus has reshaped our society.”

Depending on its reception, the Japanese firm will add features like taking notes and expand into augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) capabilities later on.

Research Behind It
A mask design was created by one of the company’s engineers, Shunsuke Fujibayashi. Four years ago, he had put it forward for a student project to interpret speech by mapping face muscles. 

Mapping of facial muscles, Source: CoMETA

Who would have imagined it would be a accessory of crucial importance in a pandemic years later! A prototype connected mask was then invented in a month’s time, by adapting translation software developed for its robot.

What Is Its Expected Market?
Japan will be the foremost market to experiment with the C-Mask, with 5,000 units delivered by September, priced at 3,980 Japanese Yen (~₹2,800). The next aim would be its export in the US, Europe and China, where a second coronavirus wave is being feared by medical experts.

Other Real-time Translation Devices Available

  • Birgus Smart Voice Translator Device
  • Docooler Intelligent Language Translator Device
  • Google Pixel Buds
  • MOGOI Smart Language Translator Device
  • Pocketalk Language Translator Device for Portable Two-Way Voice Interpreter
  • Umiwe Smart Language Translation Device
  • Waverly Lab’s ‘Ambassador’ 

Meanwhile In Gujarat
A Gujrat based textile company Intellifabrix has announced the launch of ‘viroblock technology’ for developing anti-viral fabric It claims to remove coronavirus from the surface of the garment within half an hour, using a special combination of advanced vesicle and silver technology.

It will reportedly begin manufacturing shirt-related and face mask products first and then extend the technology in making other items.

  • As of July 2020, Google Translate supports 109 languages at various levels and as of April 2016, claimed over 500 million total users, with more than 100 billion words translated daily. In May 2014, Google acquired Word Lens to improve the quality of visual and voice translation.
  • Translate.com is a human-powered translation service based in Chicago, Illinois. The company offers a web-based human translation subscription platform in combination with artificial intelligence technologies. In 2015, Translate.com launched its enterprise platform which brings together artificial intelligence, human translators, and editors to offer scalable translation services.
  • Apple announced that iOS 14 will feature an all-new Translate app for translating conversations, with support for 11 different languages at launch and an offline mode for private voice and text translation. Supported languages include Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

India v/s Covid-19: Plasma, Covaxin, And Cases

India v/s Covid-19: Plasma, Covaxin, And Cases

India has witnessed mixed reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic, with plasma treatment and Covaxin vaccine being balanced by a steady rise of cases.

Crux of the Matter

Plasma In Maharashtra-Delhi
Maharashtra government recently launched project ‘Platina‘, which would create the world’s largest Plasma therapy trial for Covid-19 patients in critical stage. Initially, the therapy would be provided to 500 patients, with the government aiming for treating 5,000 patients till August.

Similarly, Delhi government has announced the setting up of a Plasma Bank, which would be the first of its type in India. Satyendra Jain, the Health Minister of Delhi, recently availed the Plasma treatment after testing positive for Covid-19. After the therapy, Jain has shown significant improvement in health. Consequently, Jain and Atishi Marlena, a leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, have pledged to donate their plasma after recovery.

What Is Plasma Therapy?
Plasma is the liquid part of blood which contains the antibodies. Human immune system develops antibodies while combating a virus. A recovered patient can donate blood by consent, from which the plasma is recovered. This plasma, laden with antibodies, is then transferred to other patients.

Plasma therapy has several risks, including the weakening of the immune system and the augmentation of the infection. However, several Covid-19 patients have shown significant improvements, chiefly in respiration and oxygen saturation levels.

COVAXIN is the first Indian candidate for Covid-19 vaccine, and recently received permission to conduct human trials.

The vaccine is developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV). It is an inactivated type of vaccine, which contains a virus that has been rendered incapable of replication.

  • Michael Rubinstein was the first to use plasmapheresis to treat an immune-related disorder when he saved the life of an adolescent boy with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP). Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is a blood disorder that results in blood clots forming in small blood vessels throughout the body.
  • The United States has bought nearly the entire world’s supply of Remdesivir, one of just two drugs proven to treat COVID-19. US authorities secured more than 500,000 treatment courses of the drug through September, which represents 100% of Gilead’s projected production for July, 90% of production in August, and 90% of production in September. 
  • The world No. 1 in men’s tennis, Novak Djokovic announced that he and his wife, Jelena, had tested positive for the coronavirus. He organized an exhibition series in Croatia and Serbia which resulted in many attendees testing positive towards the virus. “I am so deeply sorry our tournament has caused harm,” Djokovic said on social media.

Cloud Services On A Rise: Oracle Launches New Data Centre In India

Cloud Services On A Rise: Oracle Launches New Data Centre In India

Cloud Engineered system giant, Oracle India has announced the availability of its secure and enterprise-grade data centre, Gen 2 Cloud region, for the existing and new customers in the nation. First region was Mumbai, with the second one launched in Hyderabad this year. With the recent row with Chinese apps that breached data security of citizens, and growing number of data centres how does India plan to handle personal data localization?

Crux of the Matter

More Clouds On The Ground!
The all-new data centre is a part of Oracle’s aim to set up a minimum of 36 cloud data centres in the world by December 2020.

In September last year, they had aimed to open one new data centre every 23 days. and have opened 20 new cloud regions to date. Their operations cover a total of 24 regions globally including the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, South Korea, and the European Union.

What Exactly Is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is the online delivery of on-demand computing services ranging from applications to storage and processing power, on a pay-as-you-go basis. Thus companies can rent access to services from a cloud service provider, without owning their own computing infrastructure or data centres, avoiding the upfront cost and complexity of maintaining them.

Basic Cloud Architecture

Cloud Services Are Used Almost Daily

  • Consumer services like Gmail, Google’s premier Inbox
  • Cloud back-up of the photos on your smartphone via iCloud, Google Photos, Microsoft’s OneDrive, etc.
  • Video streaming giant, Netflix that showcases you a new collection of movies and series daily
The popular cloud service providing platforms

Indian Government Localises Sensitive Personal Data
The Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 was introduced in the Indian Parliament by the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology. As of March 2020, the Bill is being analyzed by a Joint Parliamentary Committee in addition to experts and stakeholders.

It proposes that all critical information about Indian citizens will be stored and processed only in the nation. Their personal data can be processed outside pertaining to certain conditions, but again, has to be stored in India itself.

Cloud Companies Trying To Woo India
Amazon Web Services (AWS) Outposts have been made available in India, in order to boost data management on-premise. This step would urge other rising cloud services provided by Google and Microsoft to follow suit.

Moreover, Carlyle Group, an investment management company, is set to acquire a 25% stake in Airtel’s Data Centre business and seize the opportunity of massive growth in this sector.

  • Lerry Ellison co-founder and ex CEO of Oracle is the 5th richest person in the world as of March 2020 with a net worth of over $60 Billion. In 2019, Oracle was the second-largest software company by revenue and market capitalization.
  • In 2002, Oracle Corporation marketed many of its products using the slogan “Can’t break it, can’t break in”, or “Unbreakable”. However, two weeks after its introduction, many security experts demonstrated a whole suite of successful attacks against Oracle products.
  • Larry Ellison co-founded Oracle Corporation in 1977 with Bob Miner and Ed Oates under the name Software Development Laboratories (SDL). Ellison took inspiration from the 1970 paper written by Edgar F. Codd on relational database management systems (RDBMS) named “A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks.”

Why Were TikTok and 58 Other Chinese Apps Banned?

Why Were TikTok and 58 Other Chinese Apps banned?

As per an official notice circulated by Ministry of Home Affairs, TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps have been banned from Monday evening by Ministry of Electronics and IT. They further added how these apps violated the privacy of Indian citizens. This move has further added fuel to the fire felt between Indo-China at Galwan face-off and trade war.

Crux of the Matter

Which Apps Are No Longer With Us?
The most popular ones to be banned and that can take a big hit for the Chinese firms include:
Social Media apps like Byte Dance’s TikTok, that considers India as its biggest market, and Halo
Community and Video Call apps like Designed by Xiaomi, India’s top smartphone vendor
Utility apps like UC Browser, ES File Explorer, Clean Master, CamScanner
Beauty apps like YouCam Makeup and Beauty Plus
Cross-platform sharing app like ShareIt, Xender, and E-Commerce app Shein
News apps like Newsdog, UC News, QQ Newsfeed
Games like Clash of Kings, Mobile Legends
Communication apps like WeChat, WeMeet
Photo & video apps like Sweet Selfie, Wonder Camera, Viva Video
Security apps like QQ Security Center, and DU Privacy

Why Did They Do It
These apps developed in China were called out for “engaging in activities that were prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity to India, defence of India and security of the state and public order.”

Long story short, there were reports of a security breach and data privacy violations from citizens in responses received by Computer Emergency Response Team. (CERT-IN)

Who All Will Be Affected?
According to a mobile insights firm, 27 of these apps were in India’s most downloaded 1000 apps last month.

What Did TikTok Do?
With TikTok having more than 120 million monthly active users, their fanbase would be most affected unless given an alternative. However what the disappointed fans don’t know is how their data was secretly being transferred to servers outside India, in an unauthorized manner.

What Did TikTok Really Do?
Recently, TikTok faced backlash for videos on domestic violence, animal cruelty, racism, and objectification of women on the platform. A Reddit user bangorlol, who claimed to have reverse engineered TikTok, said “It is a data collection service that is thinly veiled as a social network. If there is an API to get information on you, your contacts, or your device…well they are using it”. The user also claims that TikTok snoops on users’ GPS location and also it can remotely change logging capabilities without user permission. Apple recently discovered that TikTok was accessing the users’ clipboard data. So if the user copied any text or image anywhere on the phone, TikTok accessed it.

Rising Tensions
Since 5 May 2020, Indian and Chinese Army troops have been engaging in violent face-offs at locations along the Sino-Indian border. Subsequently, International trade between India and China has been affected by the suspension of business deals and halting goods at ports in both countries.

This has been highlighted with #BoycottChina movement rampant online that calls for a boycott of Chinese Goods and urges consumers to buy the ones made in India.

  • In 2018, ByteDance shutdown its first product Neihan Duanzi after the Chinese govt strongly criticized it for “triggering strong sentiments of resentment among internet users”.
  • Bytedance founder Zhang Yiming accepted that the app was incommensurate with socialist core values, promised to deepen cooperation to promote govt policies.
  • It also said that it would hire Chinese Communist Party members and increase its censors to 10,000 employees.

Defence Alliances Of India

Defence Alliances Of India

Defence alliances formed by India are adding to its combat as well as negotiation strength as it was recently drawn in a border conflict by China.

Crux of the Matter

Rajnath Singh, the Defence Minister of India, recently visited Russia for its Victory Day Parade on 24th June and also had discussions on the weapon supply. After the talks, Russia agreed to speed up the delivery of S-400 missile systems to India, which drew praise from Singh.

I have been assured that ongoing contracts will be maintained and not just maintained, in a number of cases will be taken forward in a shorter time

Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister, India

Previously, Russia agreed to supply S-400 anti-missile system by 2021 to India, which is currently deploying Pechora and OSA-AK systems, provided by the former, at Ladakh border following a clash with Chinese soldiers.

Besides the Russian systems, India has also deployed the Israeli SPYDER system at Ladakh border. ‘Surface-to-air PYthon and DERby’, known as SPYDER is a “quick-reaction surface-to-air missile system” used for air defence. It was used in 2019 to shoot down a Pakistani drone at the Gujarat border.

Indian Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) recently conducted a “join training exercise” to further strengthen defence relations. The move came in the light of Taro Kono, the Defence Minister of Japan, revealing the presence of Chinese submarines near its islands.

Japan has warned China to curb its aggression while implementing measures to withdraw industries from there.

France has reportedly accelerated the process of supplying the Rafale jets to India, and 6 jets instead of expected 4 would be reportedly arriving on 27 July.

The Rafale deal was done in 2016 when India placed the order of 36 jets which would be provided in subsequent years. The deal cost India ₹59,000 crores.

The United States recently reduced its troops in Europe, shifting them to Asia. In his statement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the shifting was done to aid “India and other Asian countries” against the Chinese intrusion.

Pompeo also accused China of escalating the border conflict with India, where casualties were observed on both sides. The US also shared its intelligence regarding Chinese intrusion and casualties.

In a landmark move, Lockheed Martin, an American defence technology company, recently extended its deal with Tata to produce more defence aircraft which would strengthen Indian defence. The move comes after the agreement of February 2020, when the US agreed to sell the Integrated Air Defence Weapon System (IADWS) to India for $1.87 billion.

On 4 June 2020, India and Australia signed a defence pact to strengthen security and defence relationships. The pact allows both countries the access to each other’s military bases. The step has come in the light of Australia demanding an independent inquiry into the origin and transmission of Covid-19, against which China imposed severe duties on barley coming from Australia.

  • India became the main base for the American China Burma India Theater (CBI) in the war against Japan during WW-II. Tens of thousands of American servicemen arrived, bringing all sorts of advanced technology, and money; they left in 1945.
  • Serious tension erupted over American demands, led by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, that India be given independence, a proposition British Prime Minister Winston Churchill vehemently rejected. For years, Roosevelt had encouraged British disengagement from India. The American position was based on principled opposition to colonialism, practical concern for the outcome of the war, and the expectation of a large American role in a post-colonial era. Churchill threatened to resign if Roosevelt pushed too hard, so Roosevelt backed down.
  • The United States under the Truman administration leaned towards favouring India in the late-1940s as a consequence of most U.S. planners seeing India more valuable diplomatically than neighboring Pakistan. However, during the Cold War Nehru’s policy of neutrality was awkward to many American observers. American officials perceived India’s policy of non-alignment negatively. In 1948, Nehru rejected American suggestions for resolving the Kashmir crisis via third party mediation. Nehru’s 1949 tour of the United States was “an undiplomatic disaster” that left bad feelings on both sides