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Vinod Khosla’s ‘Cool Dozen’ Tech Innovation Sectors

Celebrated tech innovator and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla believes that future innovations in the information technology sector will happen in a dozen new areas

For the thousands of starry eyed young innovators struggling to make their mark in the information technology sector, industry icon Vinod Khosla, founder of Sun Microsystems and Khosla Ventures, has prepared a short list.

“These are my cool dozen list,” Khosla told over 1,000 tech entrepreneurs and wannabes who had gathered in Bangalore for the 8th India Product Conclave organized by software industry association, Nasscom today. These segments have opened up primarily because of the explosion in computing use spurred by handheld devices like tablets and smart phones. “The industry has been liberated from the dependence on desktop personal computers which had limited the scope for innovative applications,” Khosla thundered to the wildly appreciative audience.

1. One of the first areas which will see widespread innovation, Khosla said, will be in the arena of technologies that reduce data overload for users. He mentioned the presence of two prominent startups in this area: Sulia and Datasift. Sulia is touted as the world’s first “interest network.” For a user, the site’s algorithms gather all the relevant data of a specified topic from various websites, organizes the data and presents it in its entirety in an easy-to-access format. And it will regularly update the information for the user. Datasift too does something similar. It will sift the data of interest to a user from all social networks and present a comprehensive document to a user.

2. There will be a lot of action in the field of big data analytics. Khosla’s reasoning is that corporate users will need simple solutions to handle the deluge of data they generate from various sources. It can be of immense use to individual customers too. An example is the financial service provided by Billguard which alerts a user about all the hidden charges, and misuse of one’s credit and debit cards. Another prominent company is Recorded Future which uses predictive analytical tools to provide information about all the futuristic development likely in any field of activity.

3. Software tools that cater to the emotions of people will be a big hit. Khosla mentioned two prominent companies in this are: Ness Computing which does not provide any specific solution but deliver whatever software help a user needs. “You name it, we will give it,” is their mantra. Foodspotting is the second company which provides a visual guide to food and provides where to order a food one likes the most and also share the information with one’s friends.

4. Education is the fourth area that will see a lot of innovation. Khosla referred to CK-12 Foundation which provides a comprehensive access to curriculum-based content.

5. The next version of television will be here shortly as TV 2.0 which will turn current passive television viewer into instant participants. A large number of television viewers today are concurrently accessing information on one or more computing device such as smart phone or a tablet. This phenomenon is called second screen. Khosla said a new company, Second Screen Networks, provides apps such as digital ads with lots of applications synchronized to the one that is seen by the viewer on the screen. For example, if a Dominos commercial is on the television screen, the order form for pizzas from Dominos will be served simultaneously on the ‘second screen’ of the viewer. Similarly, augmented reality apps are available on smart phones recreating things in virtual reality for the viewer.

6. The sixth area of action will be the SocialNext. Here social networks will spring up for specific purposes.

7. The seventh area of action will be related to tools for sharing one’s interest. An example is meebo, the company which links one’s friends who are on various social networks at one place and provides easy tools to share one’s Web experiences instantly with one’s like minded people.

8. Health will be another segment where users will be able to do away with the help of doctors and future companies may use tools to process available information from one’s symptoms and give instant diagnosis.

9. The ninth area for future innovation is the near field computing. An example is Verayo which provides non-clonable, personal identity tags based on RFID technology.

10. Publishers of the world will need to worry about the democratization of this field by what is happening due to technological changes. The tools developed by Storify, for example, picks up content posted by people on various social networking pages and turns them into easy-to-read stories automatically. The days of professional writers and editors may soon be over, warned Khosla! Snip.it is another prominent player in this arena. The tools provided by snip.it lets one to comment about anything one sees on the Web, gather all the relevant weblinks, termed snips, and also access what other people have commented on the same topic.

11. Utility segment will be the 11th area full of tech interventions. SeatMe is a San Francisco-based startup that is developing a wide range of software solutions to revolutionize the restaurant industry. Or Ringshuffle which allows a person to temporarily shuffle one’s mobile number to keep it private and inaccessible without deactivating it. Weatherbill is another company that provides tech solutions to help people and organizations to adapt appropriately to climate change.

12. Things that simplify the happenings in the marketplace for companies and individuals make the 12th spot on Khosla’s “cool dozen” list. A promising player here is the Bangalore-based Interviewstreet, founded in 2009 by Vivek Ravisankar and K Harishankaran. The amazing range of software puzzles and other tricky questions developed by InterviewStreet help software companies to sift the best programming talent quickly.

There are many other areas where there will be wide ranging tech innovations especially in clean energy and communications. But these are Khosla’s “cool dozen” list from computing.

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology