Jio Experience Centre is a high-tech building adjacent to the gigantic Reliance Park in Navi Mumbai. Dotted with low-lying hills, several mini bus stops and buildings of varying heights, Reliance Park seems like an ‘urban village’.
Not just a telecom company
My perception of Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd as solely a telecom company was washed away when I stepped inside the freshly constructed two-year-old experience centre. The various technologies in which Jio is investing its time and money go beyond just telecom. From the project of smart home and smart car to the idea of boosting businesses of small traditional retailers in India, Jio is ambitiously working towards providing India a digital life.
Jio started off with a very basic business idea of forming a strong customer base. It provided free data services for seven straight months (from September 2016 to March 2017) at the initial stage. The company’s growing popularity seemed inevitable in the Indian market, where majority of the consumers opt for affordable services rather than spend lavishly.
One might hypothetically conclude after a tour of Jio’s experience centre that whatever technology it is testing is after all the company’s effort to channel consumers’ positive feedback into the right direction.
The experience centre is divided into two parts, separated by a wall and a door. The first section of the centre is decked with different models of JioPhone, iPads and smartphones. There is an LCD screen which plays a video of Jio phone assembly in a Chennai-based factory. It shows how Jio is contributing to the ‘Make in India’ movement of the government. Employees with white-collared shirt with a Jio logo on the right side of their chest stood beside displayed products. They explained the workings of new features and technologies that can be seen in the room.
The “legacy” phone which everyone had at one point in their life is being reintroduced with all the smart technology Jio can try to fit in. Once upon a time, a phone like that could only dial or receive a call. But now with JioPhone, one can video-call, play games, watch movies, chat online, carry out transactions and listen to songs. However, Jio has not stopped there. They are working on an inbuilt chatbot system in JioPhone which will save time and labour. Google Assistant pops up to take voice orders with just a press on the microphone icon on JioPhone. One can demand the assistant to either call or video-call one’s mother or brother, and without delay the phone starts dialling. The unique element in JioPhone is its very affordable price with more or less the same features as expensive smartphones in the market.
Recording the drive patterns
After JioPhones, there is a car at display. Jio’s smart car project is based on improvising an inbuilt car device called On-board diagnostics (OBD) which usually provides the vehicle owner or the repair technician status of its systems. Jio is advancing this device by inserting a chip which will be an equivalent to JioFi, providing internet to everyone in a car full of people. Jio is also working on an app which can detect overspeeding or any unusual driving activity through that chip which retrieves and stores the pattern of driving. With this, the owner can know the full status of the car without having to go to a service centre to know about it.
Say hi to Alexa
Behind the door lies another section of the experience centre. It is decorated as someone’s home. There is a living room, a bedroom and a kitchen. The whole section is dedicated to Jio’s smart home project.
Amazon’s Alexa is one of the main medium through which Jio is building on its smart home dream for Indian consumers. With the help of a small square-shaped Jio device stuck on either side of the wall of living room, one can control brightness of the lights and the air-conditioner temperature, find a folder one does not remember where one put it, and search and play a movie just by speaking. Similarly, the Jio ‘sensor’ in the kitchen sends a notification on phone whenever there is a gas leak or the sink overflows. And it makes black coffee too!
Keeping up with the oldies
The two most interesting concepts Jio is working on are: advancing the “legacy” gadgets and changing the way small retailers do their business in order to help them flourish in the age of online grocery shops.
There are many Indian families who cannot afford a smart TV or smart wireless sound box, while some choose not to throw away their old household gadgets due to emotional attachments. But they still want to experience the luxury of the technological advancement. For this exact purpose, Jio has come up with a solution that includes a simple cable. The cable connects the old gadget in order to make it eligible to connect and support advanced features based on artificial intelligence. For example, a classic home speaker of the olden days will be able to carry out voice orders to play songs with the help of Jio cable.
Jio has designed a device for the small retailers too. The device looks like a bigger version of an army walkie-talkie. It can swipe card, touch and pay, scan barcodes, deal with online orders and calculate how much of GST needs to be submitted to the government as it records all the sales and calculates accordingly. As there are many small shopkeepers/ration sellers who cannot afford to hire personal chartered accountants to help them with their tax calculation, this device can be of great help to them. This will also help small shopkeepers expand their business online where increasingly consumers are going. This way they can operate their brick-and-mortar as well as online business. Jio’s new features and gadgets look promising because these are developed keeping in mind the common Indian user and not niche groups.
Experiencing and observing the way Jio is working towards its ‘digital India’ dream, it is safe to say the telecom company will actually transform into a tech giant that revolutionises every aspect of your life.