Are you completely happy with the way you lead your life? Content with the kind of fitness and food path you’ve chosen for yourself? If your answer is no, sports nutritionist Kinita Kadakia Patel has some important insights to help you get your life on track. With the launch of her first book, The Athlete in You, Kadakia goes in-depth into the life of an athlete—what they eat, how they exercise, their discipline and dedication—inspiring the rest of us to follow suit.
“If you truly want to obtain an athletic body, a few training sessions here and there won’t do the trick,” explains Kadakia, “changing your approach and getting more focused on your physical and psychological well-being will help you optimise your performance and bring you a sense of unmatched achievement.”
Here, she tells us how to ‘athleticise’ our lifestyle, straight from an athlete’s diary:
1) Athletes don’t follow ‘diets’, they follow ‘sports nutrition plans’. They don’t believe in dieting to reduce weight, instead they follow a nutritious plan to reduce body fat in order to put forth an optimal performance. So don’t cut calories or eliminate food groups, but focus on the bigger picture of achieving a healthier, fitter body.
2) Meal timing, composition and frequency is extremely crucial. For instance a pre-workout snack of half cup oats and one orange can happen anywhere between one-to-three hours before training begins. There should be enough time for your stomach to feel comfortable—not too full and not too hungry. Similarly, the post-workout meals should ideally happen immediately after your workout in order to start the process of refueling; good options are a protein shake and a small banana.
3) Athletes take pride in having a disciplined lifestyle. The more structured the routine, the better you can implement it. So make a calendar which includes your monthly workout schedule, fortnightly meal plans, holidays, travels etc. This will give you the structure to set realistic goals.
4) An athletic training programme is a mixture of various types of exercises that eventually benefit the sports performance. Let your workouts be a combination of the sport you chose to play along with a sport-specific training programme to improve the overall performance.
5) Spend time either managing or cooking the meals. Often this particular adjustment tends to be the hardest one for most people as they move into an athletic lifestyle. However, when you see the difference that proper nutrition makes on how you feel and perform, you won’t think twice about doing it. You’ll simply know that it needs to be done.
6) Get a good night’s sleep because athleticism demands it. Athletes will need to sleep longer, on average, than non-athletic individuals as this is the time when their body is going to go into recovery and deep tissue repair.
7) Asses your perseverance. You will face some expected set-backs such as muscle soreness, injuries, hunger and exhaustion. But you have to overcome them and fight them like an athlete. Just putting one foot in front of the other and you will reach your goals.
8) Make the most of your off-season. Everyone can do with a break, whether it’s you or an athlete. The difference between the two is, an athlete is back to the structured schedule when the break is over. So time your breaks well in the yearly calendar, and remember, a piece of cake is always welcome in celebrations.
From three brands to one umbrella brand, The Label Life’s journey of taking tough calls and surviving rough winters.
“Have we lost the plot?” “Is this why I really started the business?”
These are questions most entrepreneurs either avoid or never quite get around to answering. Preeta Sukhtankar, however, reached this stage within a year of starting up.
The Label Corp has been in existence for over three years now, but the team celebrated their first-year anniversary this year. The first anniversary marks their shift towards one single brand. Preeta says,
I remember sitting and taking that pause. We had taken off on a jet plane and weren’t sure where we were headed. We were delusional. We thought we had a unique proposition and no other Indian brand was doing what we were doing. Why would we fail? While delusion is one trait that keeps entrepreneurs charging ahead towards success, it also is one of the big reasons why they fail.
Preeta was faced with some tough questions. Vani Kola, an early-stage investor in the company, had told her in simple terms that if they didn’t do something, The Label Life would just crash and burn. Her words had an effect. They galvanised Preeta into action. They raised a round of funding and launched three brands — The Home Label with Sussanne Khan, The Closet Label with Malaika Arora Khan, and The Trunk Label with Bipashu Basu — by 2013.
A time of reckoning
However, three brands didn’t mean they had everything sorted out. If anything, it made life more complicated. “We had no clue what we were doing; we were just launching brands. We barely had over 50 SKUs with The Closet Label and for over a year, we were at a measly number of 15 transactions a day,” reminisces Preeta.
2014, thus, became a year of reckoning. The numbers showed Preeta just one thing — they had good taste but not much else. Almost running out of money, the team got their lifeline in the form of a partnership with Amazon. Preeta adds that this partnership helped them understand their business at scale.
“For three months, we put our heads down and simply learnt things with Amazon,” she says. But during the whole process, Preeta kept going back to the basics. When she had started The Label Corp, Preeta had no idea of how to run a business and surrounded by hyper-funded startups founded by IIT and IIM alumni, Preeta just knew one thing — there was a need for a brand that understood the working Indian woman’s needs.
She had noticed that the tide had shifted, with working Indian women looking for the kind of dresses that suited their body types. While there were brands like Zara and recently, H&M, entering the market, Preeta felt they weren’t suited to the needs of Indian women.
“However, we decided to start with Home, because it was the easiest and we felt that the category was the most underrepresented,” she recalls.
A second lease of life
But one and a half years down the line, Preeta was rethinking her plans. With three brands, she realised she had essentially just shifted traffic to three different places, and that’s when the idea of combining them germinated.
“When we founded TheLabelLife.com, our vision was to build a one-stop-shop for the culturally curious and fashion-forward Indian urbane woman — a lifestyle brand where we handpicked, styled and designed by us, experts in our own fields — fashion and décor,” says Malaika Arora Khan, Style Editor at The Label Life.
It was the second life that the brand needed. Mining all the data the team had collated with the three brands, they broke down the market they were targeting, as well as the price points and products they were looking at.
Resetting the scales
The team claims that from November 2015, when the three labels combined into one, they have seen 5X revenue growth, have broken even (post variable costs), and are poised to operationally break-even by 2017.
“We realised that people were willing to spend for clothing at a certain price point, but if you give them some fashion-forward products that are available with you for a slightly higher price point they are willing to spend,” says Preeta.
The past year has been a tough ride. Combining the three brands meant scaling up, taking another look at their SKUs, and generally improving everything. The merchandising team put their heads together and decided on looking at getting better deals from manufacturers and working on better access towards credit instruments. Today the team of 65 believes they have survived the toughest part.
“Sussanne, Bipasha, and I travel frequently for work and it’s extremely gratifying when we meet people all over the country who know of and love TheLabelLife.com as a brand. But what’s more inspiring is our team of over 50 ambitious women who are working hard to achieve what they aspire for, to stay motivated every day and to take this brand to new heights,” says Malaika.
Stylists in a cookie-cutter world
That one year meant bringing in the right set of experts. Preeta says they were a team of stylists and shopaholics who needed people with business sense, which meant hiring the right set of marketers and experts. The team concentrated on their margins and returns.
The team claims they have the best-in-class rate of return and repeat customer base. Preeta adds that this has been all thanks to Sonam Shah, who had joined in as a junior merchandiser and is now leads a team of 15 in merchandising that put out over 100 styles a month, Yashika Punjabi who designed the company logo and is now co-founder of The Label Corp and Melissa, who has been there from day one and now handles customer service and retention.
Mithun Sachetui, Founder, CaratLane, and mentor for The Label Life says, “The manner in which their customers sport their merchandise and tag them proudly across their social media is a reflection of the brand they have managed to create. All this has been achieved by spending peanuts compared to what the rest of us have these past few years to attract, engage, and retain their customer.”
The world of lifestyle fashion e-commerce is fast growing. Last year, Delhi-based digital fast fashion private label StalkBuyLove raised an undisclosed amount of funding from a consortium of investors, including Mato Perić, former CEO, Rocket Internet, and nine others. The other platforms focused on fashion are Myntra, Jabong (acquired by Myntra), and Koovs.
However, The Label Life team say they are different.
“Our philosophy is that if you are looking for a white shirt, we won’t give you 10 options; we give you four that you should be wearing. We are stylists who choose for you. You cannot come to us and expect the same thing in four different colours,” says Preeta.
Currently, the team believes they have found their mojo and will continue to focus and grow in the same direction.
Parents, take note! A sedentary lifestyle may impair your child’s reading skills and academic performance, a new study has warned.
In the study, a sedentary lifestyle was linked to poorer reading skills in the first three school years in six to eight year old boys.
The study conducted at the University of Eastern Finland investigated the longitudinal associations of physical activity and sedentary time with reading and arithmetic skills in 153 children aged six to eight years old in Grades 1-3 of the primary school.
Physical activity and sedentary time were measured objectively using a combined heart rate and movement sensor in Grade one, and reading and arithmetic skills were assessed by standardised tests in Grades 1-3.
“Low levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and high levels of sedentary time in Grade one were related to better reading skills in Grades 1-3 among boys,” said Eero Haapala from the University of Eastern Finland.
“We also observed that boys who had a combination of low levels of physical activity and high levels of sedentary time had the poorest reading skills through Grades 1-3,” said Haapala.
The study showed that high levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, low levels of sedentary time, and particularly their combination in Grade one were related to better reading skills in Grades 1-3 in boys.
High levels of physical activity and low levels of sedentary time were also associated with better arithmetic skills in Grade one only in boys.
In girls, there were no strong and consistent associations of physical activity and sedentary time with reading or arithmetic skills.
The study suggests that a combination of low levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and high levels of sedentary time might be particularly harmful for the development of academic skills in boys, and that increasing physical activity, reducing sedentary time and especially their combination may improve academic achievement.The study appears in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.
The US Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on a mammoth health bill that took two years to negotiate and passed through the House as few others do: with broad, bipartisan support.
Like many bipartisan works, the $6.2bn 21st Century Cures Act is chock full of compromises.
Critics argue it is part of a “deregulatory agenda”, that dilutes high Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards in return for the unrealized promise of biomedical research funding. High-profile liberal senators, such as Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and some consumer groups, have criticized what they see as “giveaways” to the pharmaceutical industry.
Proponents call the bill’s mental health, opioid addiction, and brain and cancer research provisions a boon to public health. Republican backers have heralded the bill as “transformational” and “life-saving”, and some non-profit groups such as the American Cancer Society have also expressed support.
“Patients, doctors and scientists are supporting 21st Century Cures,” said Senate health committee chairman Lamar Alexander, a Republican, in a statement Monday. “It passed overwhelmingly in the House, and now it’s time for the Senate to deliver on the promise of 21st Century Cures for patients.”
Colorado Democratic congresswoman Diana DeGette called the bill a “watershed moment for patients”.
“We’re bringing hope to millions of people suffering from cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and a host of other ailments,” she said. Barack Obama urged the bill’s passage during his weekly address on Saturday.
“The intent of the law is to create additional pathways for new drugs to come to market quickly,” said Caitlin Morris, a health system program director at Families USA, a patient advocacy group which has not taken a public position on the bill. “That carries both risks and benefits, and I think that is the heart of the contention of this bill.”
Stuffed within its thousands of pages, the 21st Century Cures Act attempts to expedite approval of some drugs and medical devices – to the potential detriment of the public, consumer groups argue.
“I think the negative concerning features of the bill are pretty substantial,” said Aaron Kesselheim, a physician, lawyer and associate professor in pharmacoeconomics at Harvard University. “We want innovation that works, and I think what this bill is about is trying to push through new treatments without first ensuring that they work.”
One contentious provision, for example, directs the FDA to assess whether new drug uses, or indications, could be approved based on “real-world evidence”, such as observational studies.
Currently, each and every indication needs to be approved using the “gold standard”, a randomized controlled trial, because such trials are considered less biased than observational studies.
Physicians are currently permitted to prescribe drugs whether or not they are approved for indications others than those on the label, but drug companies cannot advertise for those uses. Faster approval of new indications could allow drug companies to advertise quicker, but critics argue it would also create a “double standard” in terms of determining which drugs should be used to treat what.
One example of common “off-label” prescribing is Quetiapine, also known as Seroquel, a medication used to treat schizophrenia. It is commonly also prescribed to treat bipolar disorder, though this is not on the label. Stanford University pointed to this drug as one of the most “urgently needing study for off-label use”.
“You are loosening certain restrictions,” said Morris. “On the one hand, it will get it to market sooner for folks that might benefit sooner, but on the other hand might lower the level of confidence we have on the safety and the efficacy of drugs we have and provide.”
Another measure would re-classify some medical devices, instruments permanently implanted in patients, as “breakthrough devices”.
“The last thing we need to do is any further weakening of this process,” said Michael Carome, a physician and director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, a consumer advocacy group, referring to medical device approval. “It’s already too lax. It’s already an expedited process, but [the] ‘breakthrough devices’ [provision in the new bill] would further rush the process and allow smaller clinical trials.”
The bill does nothing to address prescription drug prices, which 77% of Americans said were “unreasonable” as recently as September, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The Cures Act expands innovation “vouchers”, a system under which drug companies can receive fast-track status for an application, and which critics have described as “broken”. Therapies derived from stem cells, called regenerative medicine, are given a push.
“There’s already a great deal of quackery in the field,” said Carome, referring to regenerative medicine. “There are clinicians promoting these as cures for heart disease and Alzheimer’s … They should be subject to the most rigorous standards.”
Some measures have garnered support from influential organizations such as the American Cancer Society and Mayor Clinic though. The bill proposes $1bn in funding for opioid treatment, and $4.7bn for the National Institutes of Health to give more biomedical research grants to scientists. The bill also funds Vice-President Biden’s “Moonshot” cancer research.
However, funding for the bill is subject to approval in an upcoming appropriations bills – now and for the next 10 years. So each Congress needs to approve the funding.
Some are also concerned that $3.4bn comes from the Prevention and Public Health fund, a pot of cash meant to prevent hospital acquired infections, chronic ailments, Alzheimer’s and cancer.
According to an NPR and Center for Responsive Politics analysis, lobbyists arguing for or against the 21st Century Cures Act courted lawmakers to the tune of $192mthis year, as nearly three lobbyists for every lawmaker poured into the capital.
Health-care stocks were moving sharply lower Wednesday, though markets may be overreacting to morning remarks from Donald Trump.
Fresh comments from President-electTrump against high drug pricing sent the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) down more than 4 percent in midday trading Wednesday. Health care was more than 1.5 percent lower and was the worst of two declining S&P 500 sectors, while the benchmark index hit an all-time high.
“I’m going to bring down drug prices,” Trump said in his profile as Time magazine’s Person of the Year. “I don’t like what has happened with drug prices.”
Health-care stocks have mostly struggled since the election, and haven’t gotten the green light many expected from Hillary Clinton’s loss.
With Wednesday’s decline, health care has fallen 7 percent for 2016. The sector has dropped more than 1.5 percent since Election Day as the third-worst performer in the S&P over that time.
It’s “similar to what the pharma and biotech stocks experienced when Hillary called out on drug (pricing),” said Jeffrey Loo, health-care equity analyst at CFRA Research, which stopped recommending the health-care sector two weeks after the election.
IBB 1-year performance
“It’s not a new position for (Trump). The fact that he reiterated his position again made investors nervous about his position on price controls. … Outside of the comments he’s made about drug prices there’s so much uncertainty about the (Affordable Care Act) and what the Trump administration could do,” Loo said.
During the election campaign, Trump’s health-care platform highlighted the need to negotiate drug prices.
Among the largest decliners midday Wednesday were Celgene, down more than 5 percent, Illumina, off about 4 percent, and Amgen and Biogen, down more than 2.5 percent.
However, Chris Meekins, research analyst on health policy at FBR, said investors should “ignore Trump drug prices comments.”
Meekins said in a Wednesday note that Tom Price, Trump’s pick to head the department of Health and Human Services, and the Republican-controlled Congress would not support government regulation on drug prices. Meekins also said Trump’s comments were more of a negotiation tactic than an indication on policy.
Health-care stocks were among the top performers immediately after the election. The IBB biotech ETF surged then for its best week ever, after being pressured all year by expectations of a Clinton election win and government crackdown on high drug pricing.
Other analysts were quick to support the idea that Wednesday’s biotech sell-off was overdone.
The president-elect’s tax priorities “should provide growth opportunities” for the biotech sector, said Ying Huang, U.S. biotechnology analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The case for biotech is bolstered, he said, by cuts in corporate tax rates and efforts to give tax breaks for corporate cash held overseas.
Trump wants to lower the corporate rate to 15 percent; Huang said biotech companies collectively pay an effective tax rate of 20 percent. On the corporate cash side, biotech firms have $84 billion of cash on hand, $69 billion of which is being held overseas.
“We expect political pricing pressure to fade and tax reform and repatriation to provide growth opportunities,” Huang said.
In response to the Trump comments published in Time, the U.S. drugmakers trade group, PhRMA, said in a Reuters report that government mandates and interventions are not the right means of addressing prescription drug costs.
The U.S. Army’s efforts to come to grips with a dramatic upsurge in war-related behavioral conditions over the past 13 years holds valuable lessons for bringing precision mental health care to the civilian world.
Virtually everyone realizes that precision medicine, which aims to tailor care to the individual patient’s needs, is essential. Yet in attempts to bring patient-centered, outcomes-based approaches to health care in recent years, mental health has taken a back seat to other areas of medical care. Almost alone among industrialized nations, the United States does not systematically collect data on mental health care outcomes and lacks any nationwide means for harnessing it. Further, the broad range of difficult conditions, competing therapies, and different professions within mental health care have made it seem a poor candidate for the precise assessment, ongoing monitoring, and individualized feedback that are necessary components for making precision medicine a reality.
All three of those essential components of precision medicine are now being addressed in the Army, using a system called the Behavioral Health Data Portal (BHDP). It makes possible the routine collection of patient-reported data using standardized screening instruments, incorporates redesigned patient and care team workflows to allow consistent monitoring, and embeds clinical-decision-support systems for providing individualized feedback and action at the point of care. And it tackles two of the most difficult challenges of ongoing precision care: following patients over time and as they move from place to place and from care provider to care provider.
Between 2003, when the Iraq war began and the conflict in Afghanistan was two years old, the Army’s volume of mental health care visits tripled, from 1.1 million to 3.3 million. Between 2007 and 2011, more than $2.5 billion was spent addressing the problem, yet there was no way to determine whether troubled soldiers were getting better or to more precisely tailor their treatment.
Against that backdrop, the Army began with hospital-level experiments focused on early and robust screening for behavioral health conditions. The Army’s centralized management team responsible for its behavioral health service line built consensus among Army psychiatrists, psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers on the standard instruments that would be used for screening and follow-up for specific conditions such as PTSD, depression, alcohol use, and for the general assessment of functioning.
Previous efforts at consistent patient screening employed a manual process. Soldiers completed paper forms, which were then scored by support personnel or the care provider. Depending on the responses to the initial screening, soldiers then filled out more forms before or during their session. Such a manual process is labor-intensive and potentially error prone. It also reduces time in session with a provider.
Today when soldiers check in for appointments, they are provided with a laptop or tablet with individualized log-in information. Depending on the nature of the appointment, they complete either a standardized intake screen for their initial appointment or a disease-specific set of screening instruments. This patient-reported data is captured in a HIPAA-compliant manner within BHDP, and the back-end server computes the score and charts progress. Providers log into the BHDP website, where they can immediately see the patient reported data and use the built-in- charting function to visualize progress over time. These data are persistent across geographical locations and can be transferred to other health systems if required when a soldier leaves the Army.
BHDP requires the use of an additional information system because the electronic health record (EHR) system used by the U.S. Department of Defense does not support the capture and visualization of patient-reported mental health care data. Even in the civilian community, EHR software companies have not focused on mental health care, and their use of proprietary architectures has impeded interoperability among different care organizations and thus the portability of patients’ health records.
Early on, providers using BHDP expressed concern about the time required for soldiers to complete the standardized screening instruments before they actually saw the provider. So during initial rollout from May 2012 through February 2014, we examined 80,000 BHDP surveys in four military-treatment facilities. We found that on average it took less than 30 minutes for the first visit and less than eight minutes for a follow-up visit. The appointment process was then modified, with soldiers required to check in 45 minutes before their first visit, and 15 minutes ahead of time for each subsequent visit to ensure that data collection did not reduce face time with the care provider. The Army now routinely collects over 60,000 data points per month, less than 1% of which is incomplete.
Providers also worried that some soldiers misunderstood the questions or misreported their symptoms, calling into question the validity of the data. Consider the case of a soldier who completes a PTSD screening instrument in which she reports trouble remembering important parts of a stressful experience from the past, but is able to vividly reconstruct the experience in her conversations with the provider. The availability of the screening data in real time enables the provider to understand that the soldier has misunderstood the scale, marking 5 for extremely bothered, instead of 1 for not at all bothered. The provider cannot change the patient-reported data but can now incorporate that self-reported information when meeting face to face with the patient, to improve treatment planning and progress tracking.
Even though BHDP collects patient responses and scores the screening instrument, it does not replace the clinical interview; nor does it dictate to care providers the treatments and therapies they should employ. Unlike physical diseases requiring standard lab tests or medical procedures, mental illnesses may respond to a variety of different treatments. Further, the contextual and individual nature of mental illness calls for highly individualized treatment, which is the aim of precision medicine now made possible in the Army by the BHDP’s systematic and consistent provision of actionable data.
The BHDP system has allowed the Army to develop new ways of examining patients and improving the quality of care for key diseases such as PTSD and major depressive disorder. Prior to the introduction of BHDP, it was challenging to examine quality of PTSD care in the Army. It relied on structure and process measures such as access to care and number of visits within an episode of care to act as proxies of care quality. Today, the Army can use the large volume of practice data that is being collected in BHDP to answer the most important question: Do soldiers feel they are getting better? Prior to BHDP, there was no systematic means of collecting and analyzing these data. The notes in the electronic medical record are often a provider’s perception of the effects of treatment, whereas the data in BHDP is purely patient self-reported data.
The benefits of such a system are many, whether in a military or civilian setting: Care providers and patients have a richer, more detailed means of seeing the effects of care. Other members of the care team can see patient progress and ensure other care is consistent with the treatment currently underway. Practice managers can more efficiently and effectively use their providers to meet the needs of their patient base. Health system leaders can identify local best practices and diffuse them across the wider health system. Data on outcomes can be used to develop a comprehensive picture of a health system’s performance. And the volume of data enables better understanding of the progression of diseases at the level of the individual, the provider, the location, and the country.
The Army, of course, enjoys a degree of centralization and a command-and-control structure that makes comprehensive, system-wide improvements more easily attainable than in the civilian system. However, the high cost of health care and the urgency to improve care quality has created significant momentum toward more systematic management of health in the civilian world.
Organizational structures such as accountable care organizations (ACOs) — groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers who come together to manage a patient’s whole health —are a step toward coordinated high-quality care. The implementation of the Affordable Care Act has expanded access to mental health care for over 62 million beneficiaries. This will require health systems to better coordinate, assess, and improve mental health care.
Building a learning health system will require uniform data standards for health information technology and greater interoperability among electronic health record systems as a necessary foundation for delivering coordinated treatment and tracking of patient progress. But even well short of centralization, individual health systems can draw on the Army’s experience to improve precision of mental healthcare. It will require the development of clinical-decision-support systems such as BHDP to capture more precise mental-health-outcomes data, and redesigned clinical-care workflows to protect patient face time with care providers. Health systems can improve on the Army design by incorporating BHDP capabilities directly into the electronic medical record. This combination of clear policy, well-designed technology, and redesigned workflows can come together to enable precision mental healthcare.
Micromax on Wednesday launched a new series of smartphones that it claims are designed to popularise video calling among Indians. Micromax has launched Vdeo 1 and Vdeo 2 smartphone with Google Duo preloaded, and also boast of 4G VoLTE support. The Vdeo 1 and Vdeo 2 are priced at Rs. 4,440 and Rs. 4,990 respectively, and come bundled with Reliance Jio SIMs. The company is also touting that the smartphone sport a ‘metal back cover’.
The Micromax Vdeo 1 and Micromax Vdeo 2 come with Android 6.0 Marshmallow running out-of-the-box. Both the smartphones bear 4G VoLTE capable dual SIM card slots, and are powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core processor coupled with 1GB of RAM. The Vdeo 1 houses a 4-inch WVGA display, while the Vdeo 2 has a 4.5-inch FWVGA display.
For photography, the Vdeo 1 and Vdeo 2 have 5-megapixel cameras on the rear side while they have a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. The front-facing cameras can be used for video calling using Google Duo. Both the smartphones have 8GB of inbuilt storage that’s expandable via microSD card.
The Micromax Vdeo 1 houses a 1600mAh battery inside while the Vdeo 2 packs a 1800mAh battery under the hood. Both the devices come bundled with Reliance Jio SIM cards with its ‘Happy New Year Offer’ that gives unlimited data, call and SMS usage till March 2017.
Commenting on the smartphones launch, Shubhajit Sen, Chief Marketing Officer, Micromax Informatics said, “2016 has seen a marked slowdown in the long term trend of Feature Phones users shifting to smartphones. Two barriers we identified were perceived high cost of data and a lack of a differentiated mass-use case. With the launch of the Vdeo range we have focused on these issues. We believe Video calling that is as simple as making a voice call, in a stable environment, will be a strong use case especially in smaller towns. This feature, coupled with free internet connectivity with the pre-bundled Reliance Jio SIM is a compelling proposition that will accelerate the switch from feature phones to smartphones.”
Micromax Vdeo 1 Micromax Vdeo 1
Micromax Canvas Juice 4G (Black, 8GB) –
Micromax Canvas Spark 2 Plus (Champagne Gold, 8GB)
Micromax Canvas Juice 4G (Grey, 8GB) – OFFER
Micromax Vdeo 2 Micromax Vdeo 2
Micromax Canvas Juice 4G (Black, 8GB) –
Micromax Canvas Spark 2 Plus (Champagne Gold, 8GB)
Micromax Canvas Juice 4G (Grey, 8GB) – OFFER
LG’s new flagship features dual cameras as well as a dual screen setup. It has a 5.7-inch IPS display (2560 x 1440 pixels) and a secondary 2.1-inch display (1040 x 160 pixels). Hardware includes a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage and a 3,200mAh battery. It has 16MP + 8MP rear sensor with laser autofocus and optical image stabilisation, a 5MP front camera, microSD slot, WiFi ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, 4G with VoLTE, USB Type -c and runs Android 7.0 ..
The OnePlus 3T is an upgrade to the Oneplus 3. Primary upgrades include a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 821 processor, an improved 16MP front camera and larger 3,400mAh battery. It is available in 64GB and 128GB option. Other specifications include a 5.5-inch full HD amoled display, 6GB RAM, 16MP rear camera, dual SIM slots, fingerprint sensor, 4G with VoLTE and NFC. It will be on sale from 14 Dec.
Amkette’s S-50 wireless speaker is multiple things rolled into one. It features FM, USB in port, SD slot, Bluetooth, NFC and can be controlled using a smartphone app. It also has and aux-in for music playback, LED clock display, 10W speakers and 12 hours of battery life+. Finally, you can use it as power bank, thanks to the USB out port.
Paytm on Wednesday announced a new feature that will allow anyone to make payments using a Paytm wallet without Internet or smartphone. You will still need a smartphone (or access to a PC) in order to create your Paytm account, and link it to your phone number – and of course to load funds into the wallet. However, you will have the option to use Paytm without Internet or smartphone to make payments on a day to day basis. All you require is working phone – even if it is a feature phone.
How to use Paytm without Internet or smartphone?
To do this, Paytm has launched a toll free phone number – 1800 1800 1234 – you will have to call it from your registered mobile number in order to set your PIN. You’ll hear a voice message letting you know that you’ll get a call back to set the PIN.
After that, you can make payments using Paytm without Internet and smartphone by calling this number, typing in the phone number of the recipient, then the amount, and finally typing in your PIN for confirmation.
Where can this Paytm toll free number be used?
Although it’s not the easiest method for making payments, there could be a number of situations where this feature of using Paytm without Internet or smartphones is useful. For example, several of us have older relatives who still prefer to use feature phones for the simplicity of use. For such users, who are now forced to transact digitally owing to the demonetisation of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes, Paytm’s toll free number would be helpful. On the other hand, for people who are still using feature phones because they don’t have a smartphone, this number, along with a visit to a cyber cafe, could be very empowering. And of course, there are also people who might prefer to use this method rather than tap through multiple screens on an app.
However we have to point out that our first several attempts at getting through to Paytm to set a PIN were unsuccessful as the number was routinely busy. It took half an hour of trying before we were able to sign up for the service, and after that, payments were again a problem because the number was busy on the next few tries.
This might just be because of the initial rush for signups for the option to use Paytm without Internet and smartphone, but it paints a worrying picture – if someone is trying to make a payment using this method, they might not have access to other forms of online payments, and so if the system fails due to the number being busy, it would be a huge problem.
They were little electronic things that did stuff for you. They would play music or record videos or give you directions or let you play games on the go. They were fun. Everyone had them. Everyone wanted them. There were whole magazines and websites and even TV shows devoted to them.
For 30 or 40 years, through recessions and war, through stability and revolutions, they were always there, one gadget after another, from transistor radios to TRS-80s to Walkmen and Gameboys, then iPods and Flips, GoPros and Fitbits. We were sure gadgets would always be with us, because they had always been with us, and it was good.
But no. Winter is coming for gadgets. Or maybe winter has already come for gadgets. Everywhere you look, these days, gadgets seem on the rocks. Pebble, which makes smartwatches, may be getting sold to Fitbit, which has had its own problems. GoPro may be going bust, while Jawbone, Nest and other members of the gentry of gadget pageantry look just about ready to stick a fork into.
What happened to gadgets? It’s a fascinating story about tech progress, international manufacturing and shifting consumer preferences, and it all ends in a sad punch line: Great gadget companies are now having a harder time than ever getting off the ground. The gadget age is over — and even if that’s a kind of progress, because software now fills many of our needs, the great gadgetapocalypse is bound to make the tech world, and your life, a little less fun.
Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story
Things were never easy for gadgets. The lives of gadgets have always been nasty, brutish and short. One year a gadget would be the Must Have of the Year, and the next year it would be old news. But that was the cycle, and it was fine, because there would always be another gadget.
Then things got even worse. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the Thing That Does Everything emerged from Cupertino, Calif. That was almost 10 years ago now. You know what I’m talking about: the iPhone. We knew the Thing was going to be big, but we didn’t know it would be this big. When the Thing threatened to eat up all the gadgets, nobody thought it would really happen. We still had hope that some gadgets would stick around.
And for a while, they did. For a while, it even looked as if we would have a gadget renaissance. “Gadgets are back,” said The Verge. People created websites where customers would pay to get gadgets that hadn’t even been made yet. They called it Kickstarter. You want a gadget? Pay for someone to make it! What a world.
People started making gadgets that you could wear. They started making gadgets for your house, gadgets to control your heating and cooling, gadgets to help you sleep. Imagine that! A gadget, for when you weren’t even awake. What a world. There were even gadgets that would make other gadgets. And that’s not even getting to the gadgets that could fly!
But now the companies making flying gadgets are crashing back to earth. Look at 3D Robotics, the company founded by Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired, which ripped through $100 million to start a consumer drone company that ended up not selling many drones.
The gadgets that make other gadgets aren’t making other gadgets anymore, either: MakerBot, a much-buzzed-about start-up that aimed to spark a 3D-consumer revolution, failed spectacularly to get people printing at home.
The gadgets that were Kickstarted have been Kickstopped, too. Pebble, whose first smartwatch earned a record amount on the crowdfunding site, failed to find long-term success in a category that would soon be overrun by big companies like Apple and Samsung. (Even other big companies had trouble here; Intel’s Basis watch was recalled after it burned its wearers.)Lots of other start-ups have raised tidy sums from crowdfunding sites, but the bloom has come off the rose; as often as not, the products are delivered late and don’t work as well as they should. Even if all goes as planned with the first gadget, the companies fail to translate onetime success into long-term stability.
Much of this isn’t a surprise. “Hardware is hard” is an actual phrase that people in Silicon Valley say to pass for wise. What they mean is, starting a company that makes physical stuff has always been more perilous than starting a company that just makes code.
That’s why the hardware market has recently been ruled by big companies, either as stand-alone businesses for the likes of Apple and Samsung, or as a kind of come-on for other services. Amazon makes devices like the Kindle and the Echo as an accelerant to its content businesses and its Prime subscription program. Google and Microsoft appear more serious about hardware, and they both might turn devices into nice side businesses. But neither sees hardware as a primary moneymaker; the devices are mainly ways to get us to use more of their software.
For start-ups, even in these days of easy contract manufacturing in China, gadgets involve a lot of costs — you need money for parts and a factory, and shipping and distribution, and you need virtually everything to go perfectly, because if your first gadget is a bust or has some fatal bug, you won’t have a lot of money to make a second one. And even if your gadget is a success, it won’t last long. The gadget economy is hits driven — you’re only as good as your next big thing.
And once you get a hit, you’ll get hit by cheap knockoffs. Just before I went on a trip to Hawaii last year, I thought it would be fun to get a GoPro camera to record some pool stunts. But when I searched Amazon.com, I noticed a ton of generic “action cameras” that carried many of the same specs as the GoPros, at a steep discount on price. I ended up buying an SJCAM for $75, about half the price of the cheapest GoPro I could find. And you know what? It worked pretty well.
This is the mixed blessing of cheaper manufacturing. “In some ways it’s much easier to be a hardware start-up than it ever was before, because the Shenzhen ecosystem gives you all the components you need,” said Jan Dawson, an analyst at Jackdaw Research, referring to the manufacturing hub Shenzhen, in southern China. “But that same ecosystem is available to everybody else, too, so setting yourself apart is really tough.”
You might point out that the SJCAM I purchased lacked some of the finer qualities of a GoPro. Its software wasn’t great, and it didn’t offer customer support. If I were an extreme sports enthusiast, I might have cared about those deficiencies. For years, after all, GoPro managed to do very well among its niche audience of people who ride bikes in the snow while drinking Mountain Dew, or whatever it is you do when you’re Xtreme. Other manufacturers tapped other niches — there are gadgets for running, hiking, walking and several other sports.
But Mr. Dawson noted that eventually these companies reach the limit of their natural niche. Every sports enthusiast already has a GoPro — and that’s when trouble begins. Because I’m more of an extreme Twitter enthusiast than extreme sports guy, and because for me every gadget is essentially just an accessory to my smartphone, the cheaper knockoffs are usually fine for my purposes. This is likely to be the case for you, too.
There is something sad about this. The gadget marketplace is the great laboratory of new tech. Gadget start-ups feed the entire tech ecosystem with new ideas. It’s thanks to Pebble that we first saw the latent demand for smartwatches, and thanks to GoPro we realized that people really wanted to take videos of themselves doing underwater handstands. Would we ever have had the iPod if a bunch of start-ups in the late 1990s hadn’t braved legal trouble to create portable MP3 players?
Now gadget riches for start-ups are no longer a regular mix of the tech business. The money is in finding ways to sell old stuff with new tech — what’s the best way to deliver mattresses through an app?
But new stuff? Stuff we haven’t seen before? Gadgets? They’re gone.