Thiruvananthapuram: The present generation’s connect with radio dates back to childhood days, when their grandparents never missed the programmes on the ‘mini entertainer’ – starting from the morning news on Akashvani.
Sensing the future opportunities for digital radio, IT professionals Rajith Nair and Prasanth Thankappan launched Inntot Technologies in 2014
With the advent of TV channels and cable networks, radio was reduced to just an item of nostalgia for many. However, during the past decade, the medium has again created a revolution in the entertainment sphere with the sprouting of various FM channels offering entertainment programmes, apart from news. Now, radio is yet again undergoing a massive transformation – a switchover from Analog Radio Transmission to Digital Radio Broadcast Transmission.
Sensing the future opportunities and market for digital radio, IT professionals Rajith Nair and Prasanth Thankappan wanted to build technology-based solutions that would impact the life of common man. Having over 19 years’ experience in consumer electronics and automotive infotainment, Rajith and Prasanth’s desire to start something innovative in their native state gave birth to the startup firm Inntot Technologies Private Limited in 2014.
Now, the firm is the recipient of major awards such as the Best Service Startup and Top 10 Promising Startup at Industrial Innovation Awards of Confederation of Indian Industries (CII); Government of Telangana and Indywood Award for Innovative Tech Startup of the Year; and Best Young Entrepreneur Award of Kerala Finance Corporation.
“We had various options before us while launching the firm. Since developing mobile app and other such applications was a run-of-the mill trend, we did not want to venture into that. When our experience and the right opportunities matched, we plunged into this venture of developing software-based solutions for digital radio,” says Rajith Nair, Chief Executive Officer, Inntot Technologies.
“We wanted to create an impact and differentiation in the technological field and decided to be part of digital radio transformation,” he added. He also said how most people are unaware of this disruption in the field of radio.
Prasanth Thankappan is the Chief Technology Officer of Inntot Technologies.
Even with high penetration of internet and visual entertainment players, radio still remains a very important entertainment device in automotive and consumer segments to both urban and rural population.
Next generation radio receivers offer very rich features such as extremely good listening experience in addition to features like programme guide, news, traffic updates, graphics advertisements and emergency warning system. However, these receivers are expensive compared to other audio-video entertainment devices like digital television/STB and storage media players.
“Inntot digital radio receiver solution does not need specialized hardware components vis-à-vis most of the existing solutions and can run on generic ARM (Advanced RISC Machines) processors. This reduces Bill of Materials (BoM) cost substantially and consumers in countries like India will get immensely benefited by this low-cost solution,” cited the jury headed by Kris Gopalakrishnan, Infosys co-founder & Executive Vice Chairman and CII Startup Council Chairman, while awarding Inntot with the Best Service Startup and Top 10 Promising Startup at Industrial Innovation Awards of CII. Due to its quality, competitiveness and cost-effectiveness, Inntot’s solution has been noticed by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and Original Design Manufacturers (ODMs).
One major advantage of digital radio is that it offers easy and effective access to AM stations. Due to lack of clarity and audibility, most people skip listening to AM channels. But with the advent of digital radio, it would be easy for the Indian listeners to hear overseas short wave transmissions like BBC International and Radio Vatican with high quality listening experience and without any disruptions and glitches. FM radio has its limitations as it will be available only within a range of 60 kilometres, whereas AM transmissions can go up to 300 kilometres.
Moreover, with digital radio, the number of channels available will increase fourfold. Another important aspect of digital radio is the emergency warning system which will alert the audience in the eventuality of natural disasters even when the radio is in standby or programme listening mode.
The analog version of AM is slowly switching to digital in India. As many as 39 digital radio stations are already operational in the country. Norway was the first country to witness analog sunset of radio and embrace digital radio fully in December 2017. Italy, Switzerland, UK and India will be joining the league soon. “In the next five years, even FM channels are likely to be digitized fully and this will be a revolutionary change in India and other countries,” notes Rajith.
The main customers of Inntot Technologies are from South Korea and Japan, including chip/semi-conductor makers, OEMs and ODMs in automotive infotainment and consumer electronics who have a market in India. The company, after its formation in 2014, received its first order in September 2016. The first solution was sold to Telechips Inc., a South Korea-based chip maker in automotive and consumer electronics industry. “The gestation period in IT is comparatively longer than other sectors. But once an IP is developed, we can sell the same to multiple customers, with minor customisations,” says Rajith.
The initial challenges faced by Inntot included getting the right team in terms of talent, passion and commitment, funding for IP development and marketing the solution to big players. The company, which has eight employees now, had received an interest-free loan amounting to Rs. 20 lakh under the Kerala State Entrepreneur Development Mission (KSEDM) from Kerala Financial Corporation (KFC). The firm is planning to expand its services as and when investors are roped in. For details, log on to: www.inntot.com