Gadgets

Kogo: a travelogue bot for the roadtripper

The KogoBOT is a soapbar-sized, octagonal device that can be attached to your vehicle

The KogoBOT is a soapbar-sized, octagonal device that can be attached to your vehicle   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Kogo is a device-app combo which leverages Artificial Intelligence, enabling you to track your journey and create multimedia travel stories

We (I and two more journalists) are in transit from Jodhpur to Khimsar. A two-hour, 100-kilometre ride. The sky has changed from glimmering golden orange to purplish black. After crossing the centuries-old forts and temples, we are on a barren, almost empty highway. Just a few dhabas, fuel stations and dirty green thorny plants to look from the car window. The phone, to preserve charge, has been switched off. A prolonged period of inactivity, the lack of interesting sights, the near-constant speed and the full-blast AC of the vehicle causes torpor. Which is when we decide it’s the best time for a chai break.

The hot and spicy moong dal pakoras served with fried green chilli at the Nagori Cold Drinks tea stall mightn’t be world famous. But it’s now one of my favourite snacks. And, along with the magnificent forts and the spectacular sand dunes of Khimsar, I will equally cherish the small tea stall in Bawari during my two-day stay in Rajasthan. And, thanks to Kogo, I can locate this little known roadside stall and suggest its moong dal pakora.

Kogo, launched in January, is a device-app combo that enables you to minutely track your road trips and effortlessly create multimedia travel stories with them. The soapbar-sized, octagonal gadget (KogoBOT) — which you can carry or attach to your vehicle — has a dedicated GPS and multiple sensors to map the journey. And, the KogoApp takes the data captured by the device and uses Artificial Intelligence to create stories of your travels.

HOW KOGO WORKS
  • Start a trip by entering the destination and choose your sharing preference.
  • Kogo will create a title for the trip (which you can edit) and start tracking the journey.
  • After the trip, you can view the details of your trip: route, time, temperature, stops and others.
  • You can upload pictures and videos of your journey even after the trip; Kogo will use the files’ timestamp to chronologically slot it in your story.

Origin story

Raj K Gopalakrishnan and Praveer Kochhar conceptualised Kogo during one of their many annual trips to Spiti Valley. “We were coming back from the Sangla Valley,” says Praveer, “And, we were arguing about the location of a place where we had some amazing Maggi with chicken on our previous trip. We spent about an hour and a half trying to zero in on the place but we couldn’t. That’s when we were like, ‘We travel so much. So, why can’t we log these things?’”

But what’s the need for a new device when your phone can do it?

Praveer answers, “I have used a dozen tracking apps. A lot of these apps use the phone’s GPS. For long duration trips, you need to have the app running all the time in the foreground for the GPS to function. But if you have to use say, WhatsApp or Facebook, then, the apps that aren’t being used go to the background.” In an effort to reduce power consumption, the latest versions of Android limits background apps to receive location updates only a few times every hour, which reduces the mapping accuracy.

Secondly, the KogoBOT is a powerhouse. It can last up to seven days on a single full charge, and save up to 10 days of data even when there is no network.

Praveer’s third reason is privacy. “We foresee that permanent taking of location from mobile phones is going to be completely absent. It might even happen within the next year. Because it is quite infringing on your privacy if your phone is constantly sending data, right? The beauty about Kogo is you can switch it off whenever you want.”

When does the tracking begin and end on Kogo? “The tracking happens only after you start a trip on the app and are moving. When you are stationary for 20 seconds, the device goes into sleep, so it can conserve battery. The device’s vibration sensor knows when you are moving, so, it wakes up and starts tracking again.” Once you end the trip, the device — if it’s on and moving — sends what Praveer calls “location pings” once in three minutes. And, it stops tracking when switched off.

The Kogo App is a work in progress. It, for instance, doesn’t have enough photo or video editing options. Video streaming is often slow. The destination can’t be changed after the trip starts.

What’s in store?

Praveer promises significant additons to the app in the next few months. “You will have the option to discuss a trip with other users. The second thing is: you will be able to book experiences on the app. For example, we have partnered with Homestays of India, which has over 100 properties across India.”

The KogoBOT, priced ₹7,749 (including a one-year subscription of the KogoApp as an introductory offer), caters mainly to regular road-trippers — occasional travellers might consider it an expensive option. Praveer, however, reckons this niche audience is sufficient for Kogo’s growth. “In India, we identified about 1.3 crore serious travellers. Our aim for the next three years is to reach 300,000 of them and 450,000 outside India.” Kogo’s targetting is to cover a million kilometers within a year for which the company has partnered with JAWA Motorcycle Company to cover 3,00,000 kilometers.

“This is just the start,” says Praveer.

The writer was in Jodhpur at the invitation of Kogo.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 8:45:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/gadgets/check-out-kogo-a-travelogue-bot-for-the-roadtripper/article30823710.ece

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