Saturday, September 07, 2013

a dayyum watch because sixth sense too far ahead of its time...,

livemint | There has been much amusement at the way Samsung’s Pranav Mistry spoke English on Wednesday night in Berlin, Germany. The 32-year-old was picked to release the Galaxy Gear smartwatch. This is a watch that connects to and displays the screen content of your mobile phone, which can stay in your pocket or bag.

The Gear is the first product innovation Samsung has put out before Apple. Mistry’s being picked for launching it globally tells us something about how he’s regarded within the company.

Mistry is from Palanpur in northern Gujarat, and to me his speech has the inflection of the western Gujarati, which is to say Kathiawari.

He probably speaks Gujarati like Gandhi, who was from the southern part of western Gujarat, and like Jinnah. Even many Gujaratis from central and southern Gujarat—Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat—would find Mistry’s Palanpuri accent amusing, though in Gujarati, of course.

The interesting thing about the town—it is hardly a city, with barely over 100,000 people—of Palanpur is that it is man for man the most productive, most brilliant city in South Asia.

When I visited the diamond bourse in Tel Aviv, Israel, I was not surprised to observe that it was totally dominated by two communities. The Polish and other Eastern European Hasidics with their black coats, black hats and ringlets, and Palanpuri Jains with the singsong accent of Mistry.

And so, Jews and Gujjus.

Palanpuris control half the market in the world’s unpolished diamonds, and they have no equal, even among Marwaris.

It is usually in the field of business and enterprise that the Palanpuri shines and so it is unusual that young Mistry picked academia (he is from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US) as his calling, then moving to a corporate job.

At another event, whose video is available on YouTube, he talks about fantasy and innovation. Mistry says his inspiration isn’t from science fiction, as is the case with many of the other technology masters around him. It is Hindu mythology that is the root and source of his creativity.

He finds ideas in the texts and in their stories. This shows him to be grounded in his culture, which is something the English-medium Indian usually discards, even though he makes the pretence of worshipping it.

In my opinion, this rootedness is far more important intellectually for Indians than knowledge of Western popular culture, which passes for sophistication in our country.

What amused Twitter was not the content of Mistry’s talk. It was the way he delivered it.

An Indian speaking like a native before foreigners embarrasses us because the accent betrays a lack of sophistication that stigmatizes all Indians.

This, of course, says more about us than about the person speaking.


CNu said...

a man waaaaay ahead of his time pushing the envelope of both the invisible technology and it's exceedingly clever gestalt. 6th sense indeed....,

Tom said...

lol what is supposed to be wrong with how he talks? He sounds like 20% of the scientists and engineers I know. As well look down on St. Richard Feynman for his LI accent (which I understand English physicists did ... for as long as they could get away with it).

Tom said...

The watch stuff itself makes MEGO though. What a bunch of empty hype. Good old Bathtub strikes again with a wearable game controller. said...

I don't see anything wrong with his accent either but I guess it's similar to the way some Blacks hate eating chicken in front of white people.

Tom said...

Oh, thanks, I think I see. They're not seeing a powerful corporate leader, they're seeing fried chicken crumbs.

Dale Asberry said...

I know you're a bit down on this development but for a number of reasons, I'm much more optimistic.

1. Problem: His system was based on video recognition. His setup required data transfer rates that weren't supported on handheld devices at the time. Now that the data transfer rate problem has been solved, the next problem is the pure horsepower (megaflops/watt) required to process that feed. We're at least another 5 years or more out on that...

Solution: Input techniques that have a much higher signal to noise ratio than a video feed and requires less battery to process.

2. Problem: A dayyum watch

Solution: 800 Mhz processor running a modified Android build with voice recognition, accelerometer and magnetometer (v2 may even have GPS) -- input techniques with a much higher signal to noise ratio. He's working with real tech on real devices. My first computer only had 1.5k memory -- constraints like that lead to interesting innovations in the hands of someone who's driven to make it work anyway...

3. Problem: Even quad-core 1 Ghz smart phones have trouble just running apps.

Solution: Push input processing (besides text entry) off to another device. One solution: put the new processor on your wrist -- Sony and Samsung's approach. The Motorola (Moto X, Droid Maxx) and Apple solutions involve custom processors on the phone.

4. Problem: No software to perform sensor data fusion.

Solution: I bet he (and his research group) are working on it. "Other" smart developers have been thinking on this problem for a couple years and have some possible answers now that phones come with a bit of processing power.

5. Problem: No corporate vision.

Solution: He's in charge of R&D at Samsung working on tech that can actually be manufactured and sold. They clearly like him -- I hope the watch is successful so he can stay in such good standing.

CNu said...

Superb dot-connecting Dale. The watch is a sustainable and digestible means to a larger wearable computing endKnowledge is a correct separation of the real from the false, and this is reached not by means of negation but by means of inclusion. Truth includes all in itself, and what cannot enter it shows by this very fact its falsity and incorrectness.

Dale Asberry said...

Hmmm... another review site says that the Gear is capable of recognizing some gestures.