Indian Tech Company Challenges Apple & Fitbit
February 10, 2020 | Design Thinking
by ExperiencePoint

India has long been seen by the U.S. business market as a destination for cheap outsourcing. The promise of a skilled labor force at a fraction of the cost has driven many US corporations to partner with Indian companies to meet their production needs. However, India is ready to emerge as a center of innovation– and local entrepreneurs are using human-centered design to fuel that revolution.

No longer content to do the grunt work for their U.S. partners, Indian companies are now designing and developing products on their own to meet consumer needs and compete with American products. Hug Innovations, an India-based Internet of Things (IoT) startup, is one of the companies leading the charge in India’s corporate transformation by developing the world’s first gesture-controlled smartwatch.

Hug Innovations, founded by Raj Neravati, is a wearable device brand similar to the Apple Watch or Fitbit. The company has developed four consumer products thus far. Now, according to The Economic Times, Hug Innovations has been awarded a patent in the U.S. that allows it to utilize a specific type of gesture-control technology.

For this patent, Hug Innovation’s next product will not only be able to answer calls and track fitness goals similar to other fitness watch brands, but it will also be able to notify friends or family in the event of a medical emergency. When the watch performs a series of specific movements that would not be done in the normal course of any given day (think: falling off a cliff while taking a selfie), a distress signal will activate and alert designated emergency contacts.

It’s a feature that sets this product apart from its competitors. Neravati explains that they developed it using design thinking. In The Economic Times, he states: “There are many occasions, such as a car crash, when people are not even in a position to use both of their hands. We empathized with our end-users and thought through many such scenarios while designing the watch. We have trained the algorithm to also ensure normal hand motions don’t trigger the alarm.”

The gesture-control algorithm that Hug Innovations has patented is designed for more than just safety.

According to The News Minute, Hug Innovations is also working on using the algorithm to control IoT-based devices such as drones, computers and smart appliances. They have developed 16 unique gestures that can control over 20 applications, and are also working on building healthcare and military defense applications.

The ability to control certain devices with just a specific movement of your arm has the potential to be revolutionary – but only if the designers of these products spend time with actual users, watching how they move, and empathizing with their experiences.

Hug Innovations has discovered the incredible power that comes when you combine technical innovation with human-centered design. US tech companies may need to step up their game if they want to compete with this new generation of innovators.

Read more about human-centered design and cutting-edge technology in our coverage of Tesla and self-driving cars.


Learn how to enable innovation skill-building at scale here or download our free ebook Design Thinking 101.

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