It is not just the quest for cutting-edge technology but the passion for building gadgets with a human touch that drives this Kurnool born and bred techie Raj Neravati. That’s perhaps the reason why his startup -Hug Innovations builds wearable devices that are smarter than those currently in the market doing not only run of the mill tasks like tracking fitness and answering calls but also serving as a buddy in times of distress by alerting family and friends at the press of a SoS button.And if you are not in a position to press the SoS button on this smartwatch, just eight rotations of the wrist on which you are wearing it lets your near and dear ones know that you need help. And on other days, you can use movements or gestures to do cooler things like changing songs on your smartphones without touching it or even flying drones for that matter.
Neravati was at the top of his game in the US as the COO of Cigniti Technologies Limited when he decided to quit and head back home to test the waters of entrepreneurship. What nudged him out of his comfort zone was the Nirbhaya incident that shook the conscience of the entire nation. “I felt very disturbed. For a couple of days … I just could not do anything. I thought I should pen a post on FB but felt it would be a futile exercise. Eventually I decided to build a solution that would really help women in distress and moved back to India to work on it,“ Neravati said.
On Feb 14, 2014, he set up ADR Software and commenced working on building a women’s safety product.While many companies were coming up with women safe ty apps, Neravati zeroed in on a wearable device as he felt it would be more accessible and handy when in trouble. The startup developed a wearable device and named it `iRaksha’ initially, but was later re-christened `Hug Smartwatch’. Explaining the rationale behind renaming it, Neravati said that when a person hugs you, it means the person is there for you and cares for you. Soon, along with the product, the startup too was rechristened Hug Innovations in 2015.
“We wanted to say that we care for the people. But along with providing a safety feature on the smartwatch, we wanted to develop it into a lifestyle gadget and started adding other elements such as fitness, heart rate monito ring, calls etc. However, we were not satisfied as we wanted to do something different. That is how we came up with a gesture platform that can read hand gestures,“ he said, adding that the startup has already patented its gesture platform technology .Since the launch of its device in Mumbai last year, Hug Innovations has already sold 750 Hug smartwatches.
The next smart device launched by the startup in March this year was My Buddy, a child tracking device that it directly sells to a preschool chain in the country .The kids can either wear it on their wrist or as a pendant and the device enables parents to track them. Kids can press the SoS button when in distress and parents can be alerted. One of the interesting features of this device is that it allows parents to draw a circle around their kids on their smartphone and once the kid moves out of that circle, the parents get an alert.
With these two products in its kitty, Hug Innovations launched its third product this week an IoT enabled fitness band -Hug Elan. This wearable does not require charging cables as it is designed in such a manner that it can be directly plugged into a USB port for a quick recharge. It can also be connected to other IoT devices. While the startup is working on other products, it is the gesture platform that it wants to leverage for new business opportunities by opening it up to the developer community .