Google Inc. announced the launch of its Google Business Photos programme in India with the release of thousands of new indoor images of businesses. The global programme, which is part of its Maps project, typically offers users a virtual tour inside the businesses through interactive 360-degree imagery created using Street View technology.

According to Google’s press release, the company worked closely with thousands of businesses to pilot this programme with restaurants, bars, retail stores, showrooms and boutiques. So, now Google users in India can view the inside of a business on their computers or phones, accessible through a regular Google search, Google Maps, and the Google+ local pages. What interested businesses can do is get their interiors captured and load the interface with images of displays on the storefront, such as business hours, rating details, credit cards accepted, and posted menus. These photos can help customers get a better sense of what a business has to offer and what sets it apart from others, the release explained.

Shailesh Nalawadi, Product Manager-Geo, Google said, in a release: “Consumers who look online for local businesses can now see more high-quality photos that give them a sense of what a place is really like. For the businesses, this provides an opportunity to visually present their product and services.”

HR excellence award for SAP Labs

Bangalore-based ERP solutions firm SAP Labs India won the Global HR Excellence Award for ‘Innovative HR practices’ and ‘Promoting health at the workplace’ at the World HRD Congress, a global HR congregation. In a release, Bhuvaneswar Naik, vice-president, Human Resources, SAP India, said: “We are thrilled by the external validations of our industry-best HR practices and diversity initiatives in creating a healthy, productive and conducive work environment.” The release added that the company was chosen for its efforts towards encouraging employees to participate in “several programs and activities in order to achieve a good work-life balance”.

Research contest in face recognition

Here’s a research contest that will allow you to compete at a global level in the cutting-edge field of computer vision and object recognition technologies. Launched at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Bangalore, the contest is organised by EADS Innovation Works, the research and technology network of the global aerospace and defence services firm.

The competition is focussed on finding innovative and efficient algorithmic approaches to the re-identification of humans in images, a release from EADS stated. The main task at hand for those competing is to find a way for the system to recognise, given two pictures each showing a person, whether it is the same person or not. The teams can upload their own photo data and test their algorithms on http://jointhespirit.eads.com. The fastest and most effective re-identification code will be awarded an exclusive trip to Kourou, French Guiana, on the occasion of an Ariane 5 launch.

Yann Barbaux, Head of EADS Innovation Works, said, in a release: “We encourage students to actively engage in the pioneering field of computerised object recognition. Instead of just being interested observers, they are offered the unique chance to leave their footprints within an industry-related scientific discourse, displaying various practical applications, such as the safeguarding of major sports events.”

The first phase of the contest opened on March 1.

Customer intelligence solutions

BPO solutions provider Firstsource Solutions Ltd. announced the launch of First Customer Intelligence (FCI), a product aimed at helping organisations gain actionable customer insights. This allows organisations to maintain a clear view of customer experiences, the service quality delivered and handling of customer concerns, a release from the firm stated.

“This is a major step forward to strengthen and deepen our client alignment and add value to our clients’ businesses. It delivers significant return on investment by providing business benefits such as profitability maximisation, revenue enhancement and improved customer experience through actionable customer insights,” said Iain Regan, executive vice-president, Sales and Client Services, Firstsource, in a release.

New release for the cloud

Informatica Corporation, data integration software solutions provider, introduced Informatica Cloud Spring 2013, the latest release of its Informatica Cloud family of cloud-based integration and data management applications. A release from the company stated that the new release offers reduced risk of data breaches, a new extended service for business process creation, and master data management applications.