Monday, July 21, 2014

3D Printing Revolution Comes to Pakistan

3D printing (also called stereolithography or additive manufacturing) is a process for making a three-dimensional object of almost any shape. It uses a 3D model or other electronic data source primarily through additive processes in which successive layers of material are laid down under computer control.

3D printing technology was introduced in Pakistan when Robotics Lab was launched in 2011 in Karachi. It was founded by two friends Afaque Ahmed and Yasin Altaf  who had previously worked in Silicon Valley. They bought a 3D printer for the lab as a tool to help children learn science.

In addition to serving children, the Robotics Lab has attracted commercial clients such as Pak Suzuki Motors, architecture firms and college students doing senior projects, according to the Express Tribune newspaper. The founding duo is now looking for ways to expand its audience.“Our goal is to push this science lab to TCF schools, a nationwide school network covering about 150,000 underprivileged students,” says Ahmed. The project, however, is currently pending because of funding constraints. “We have asked them to find some big donor for this purpose. Currently, we train these children only through field trips to our labs.”

3D printing has excited Pakistanis like Ali Ahsan to build his own 3D printer, according to a story published in Pakistan Today. He was inspired to make things by his father. “My father was a ‘maker’. He always enjoyed problem solving wanted to make life easier. We never saw electricians, plumbers, carpenter coming to our house. He use to do everything by himself and fortunately as a kid I always stood beside him carrying tools and watching what he is doing. That’s what made me a mechanical engineer, a little different as I was pre-trained by a full time mentor. “It was a favour that I wanted to return by doing something similar for my own children. With 3D printing, I can’t tell you the exact moment it all started, but my wife and I spared a room (we call it the Maker Room) with all sorts of tools electronics. And that’s sort of where it all began! The first thing we made were LEGOs for my children and we ended up at LEGO Mindstorm. With an environment of learning you actually don’t have to teach they learn by mimicking you".

Softonix, a Karachi-based creative design agency, started a commercial 3D printing service to offer 3D models to their clients starting in 2012. As the popularity of 3D printing grew among the users of the service, Tayyab Alam told 3DPrint.com that “seven out of ten calls asked us for 3D printers instead of the 3D printing service.” Softonix responded to growing demand by launching 3D Xplore subsidiary to sell 3D printers.

"So we started working on the plans to design and manufacture Pakistan’s very own 3D printer brand, and finally we launched [our line of] 3D Printers for consumers, back in March 2014,” said Alam. “Xplorer 3D is Pakistran’s first 3D printing brand, providing state of the art and affordable 3D Printers. Currently our printers are being manufactured in China and assembled in Pakistan, but we do have future plans to start manufacturing them right here. Currently our product range starts from DIY 3D printing kits to professional level 3D printers.”

Working replicas of expensive scientific equipment could be made for a fraction of conventional costs using cheap 3D printers, possibly saving developing world labs thousands of dollars each time, says a researcher who has authored a book on the subject. The advances in 3D computing mean the age of appropriate technology – affordable, sustainable solutions designed and built to meet local needs – may be here, argues Joshua Pearce, a materials science and engineering professor at Michigan Technological University in the US, in an article in last month's Physics World magazine, according the Guardian newspaper.

3D printing technology has the potential to revolutionize manufacturing. It can be used for 3D model-making, rapid prototyping and production of a range of products for industrial and consumer applications as well as prosthetic limbs and human organs. CAD files for such products can be created by designers from scratch for new designs or downloaded from the web in stl format and modified and customized.

While the industrial use of 3D printers has accelerated, the consumer market for 3-D printing will reach $600 million in 2017, up from $70 million to $80 million last year, according to Kenneth Wong, an analyst at Citigroup Inc. in San Francisco.

Here's a video of a friend Ali Hasan Cemendtaur from Silicon Valley visiting Robotics Lab in Karachi:


Here's Lisa Harouni on 3D Printing:


DEVELOP3D Live: Lisa Harouni, Digital Forming - Talk from DEVELOP3D on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Robotics in Pakistan

Inquiry Based Learning in Pakistan

Pakistani-American Pioneered 3D Technology in Orthodontics

Pakistani Brothers Spawned $20 Billion Security Software Industry

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fireeye Goes Public

Are there Good Hackers? 

Pakistani-Americans Enabling 2nd Machine Revolution

Pakistani-American Shahid Khan Richest South Asian in America

Two Pakistani-American Silicon Valley Techs Among Top 5 VC Deals

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Minorities Are Majority in Silicon Valley 

US Promoting Venture Capital & Private Equity in Pakistan

Pakistani-American Population Growth Second Fastest Among Asian-Americans

Edible Arrangements: Pakistani-American's Success Story

Pakistani-American Elected Mayor


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Pakistani-American's Invisalign Technology Revolutionized Orthodontics

Zia Chishti, a Pakistani-American serial entrepreneur,  founded his first company Align Technology in 1997 in Silicon Valley on the idea of creating clear plastic braces by using advanced 3-D computer imaging. The technology now trademarked as Invisalign has helped millions of people straighten their teeth for a beautiful smile without enduring the pain and unsightly looks of the traditional steel brackets and wires used in orthodontics.

Zia Chishti and Kelsey Wirth
After graduating from Stanford Business School, Chishti wore braces when working as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley. When his braces were removed he wore a clear plastic retainer. He noticed that when he did not wear the retainer for several days his teeth would move. However, putting the retainer back on helped bring his teeth to their desired, straightened state. It was this observation that a clear plastic device was capable of moving his own teeth that led to Chishti to conceive a process that became the Invisalign System.

A background in computer science gave Chishti the insight that it was possible to design and manufacture an entire series of clear orthodontic devices similar to the retainer he wore, using 3- D computer graphics technology to straighten teeth. He and his co-founder Kelsey Wirth started Align Technology in 1997 to realize this vision. The process has now evolved to make extensive use of 3D printing for creating a series of braces to apply gentle pressure to straighten teeth over several months. In 2012 alone, the company printed 17 million transparent dental braces for patients.

Align Technology went public in 2001 raising $130 million by selling 10 million shares at $13 each. The company's 2013 revenue was $660 million and net income was $65 million.

Chishti also started The Resource Group (TRG) in Pakistan in 1999. TRG Pakistan claims to be "the country’s largest provider of BPO services with 4 locations in Karachi and Lahore – Pakistan’s largest cities and financial centers". A 2005 Washington Post story introduced what TRG does in these words: "In a chic downtown lobby across the street from the Old Executive Office Building (in Washington DC), Saadia Musa answers phones, orders sandwiches and lets in the FedEx guy....And she does it all from Karachi, Pakistan".

Chishti also founded OrthoClear in 2005 along with several other former Align employees to compete with Align. OrthoClear received $10 million in VC funding from London-based 3i Group and set up its production facilities in Lahore, Pakistan. Soon after, Align Technology slapped OrthoClear with a lawsuit for patent infringement and filed a parallel petition with the US International Trade Commission for unfair competition.

Align claimed that OrthoClear utilizes Align's trade secrets and infringes twelve Align patents, comprising more than 200 patent claims, in the production of the OrthoClear aligners at a facility in Lahore, Pakistan. The complaint requested the ITC institute an immediate investigation and ultimately issue an exclusionary order, enforced by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, excluding OrthoClear aligners from importation into the United States.

OrthoClear Inc. and Align Technology Inc. settled their litigation in a Consent Decree with a promise by OrthoClear to stop accepting cases in the United States and a payment of about $20 million from Align for OrthoClear's intellectual property.

After settling with Align, Chisti started another company called ClearCorrect which also made invisible braces. ClearCorrect argued and the International Trade Commission (ITC) agreed that ClearCorrect and its former OrthoClear employees did not violate the Consent Order when they imported digital dental data from Pakistan to make ClearCorrect aligners. However, a Federal Circuit said last week that such rulings are not reviewable by the ITC under the ITC's own rules until after the completion of the investigation, and that the ITC never waived its rule.

The Court ruled that the language used by the parties in the 2006 Consent Order was adequate to prohibit importation by electronic transmission, and remanded the case to the ITC to determine at trial whether the former OrthoClear (now ClearCorrect) employees violated the Consent Order by transmitting digital dental data to ClearCorrect.

The Court did not reach the question of whether section 337 gives the ITC jurisdiction over electronic articles (an issue Align won with both the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and the ITC and now the subject of a separate ClearCorrect appeal). The case will now be remanded back to the ITC, which will presumably assign a new ALJ to handle the case going forward. So the litigation goes on while the consumers continue to pay the high price for use of clear braces.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistani Brothers Spawned $20 Billion Security Software Industry

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fireeye Goes Public

Are there Good Hackers? 

Pakistani-Americans Enabling 2nd Machine Revolution

Pakistani-American Shahid Khan Richest South Asian in America

Two Pakistani-American Silicon Valley Techs Among Top 5 VC Deals

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Minorities Are Majority in Silicon Valley 

US Promoting Venture Capital & Private Equity in Pakistan

Pakistani-American Population Growth Second Fastest Among Asian-Americans

Edible Arrangements: Pakistani-American's Success Story

Pakistani-American Elected Mayor

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pakistani Brothers' PC Virus Helped Create $20 Billion Industry

The year was 1986. Most personal computers used floppy disks to boot and to move files from one computer to another. Floppy disk was also the medium used by Amjad and Basit Alvi, two Pakistani brothers living in Lahore, to create and spread history's first known PC virus called "The Brain".  Here's how Mikko Hypponen, a software security expert, described it last year at DEF CON, world's largest hackers convention held in Las Vegas:

Creators of First PC Virus: Amjad Farooq and Basit Farooq Alvi


"It's surprisingly advanced, and it has surprising features, including a capability of hiding itself. So when your PC is infected by Brain, and you go and look at your floppies, you will not see Brain on the floppies. It's watching you watching it, and if you try to look at the copy of Brain, it fools you and gives you a clean image of a floppy instead. And we would call this a stealth virus, at the time....
These guys weren't evil at all. They weren't evil even then, 25 years ago, when they wrote the first PC virus. Their intention was never to cause harm to anybody, and they didn't, of course, realize that they made history when they wrote the first PC virus. But Brain was the only virus they ever wrote and they never meant to destroy any data or cause any harm for anyone".  

The Brain, also known as The Pakistani Brain, is the virus that challenged John McAfee to develop anti-virus software. Later, John McAfee launched his company that was acquired in 2010 by Intel for $7.7 billion.  McAfee is just one of several security software companies inspired by the Pakistani Brain virus. Gartner estimates that the security software industry revenue was about $20 billion in 2013.

Cloud security is the latest incarnation of the security software industry. Companies like Fire-eye founded by Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz are leading  cloud security revolution in Silicon Valley.

Here are some of the reasons for the success of Fire-eye as described by Business Insider:

1. The company's flagship product solves a really hard computer security problem. It is able to stop hack attacks that were previously almost impossible to stop.

2. FireEye bought another security firm, Mandiant, for $1 billion. Mandiant was famous for uncovering links between Chinese hackers and attacks on U.S. companies.

3. With Mandiant, FireEye launched a cloud computing security service that competes with SourceFire. SourceFire is the company Cisco bought last summer for $2.7 billion.

4. The company beat expectations on its fourth quarter with revenue of $57.3 million, a beat by $1.26 million, and EPS of $-0.35, a beat by $0.03.

5. Some Wall Street analysts have been really gung ho on the company. Wells Fargo started tracking it a month ago, saying it was "a once in a decade opportunity to invest in a truly disruptive technology."

The world has dramatically changed since the 1990s when Wintel ruled the roost. PC is no longer the dominant device. Smartphones and tablets have brought the era of mobile cloud computing where neither Intel nor Microsoft enjoy leadership position. Even developing countries like Pakistan are deploying cloud computing applications. A Google sponsored survey in Pakistan found that mobile computing is expected to overtake desktop computing this year. Several new and more innovative and powerful players have emerged to in this market.

As more and more enterprises embrace cloud-based computing, cloud security is becoming a hot area for many entrepreneurs. This shift means over $2 billion annual market for cloud security vendors like Fireeye and Elastica. Researchers at Gartner forecast the highest growth to occur in cloud-based tokenisation and encryption, security information and event management (SIEM), vulnerability assessment and web application firewalls.

Recently, a Silicon Valley cloud security start-up Ealstica was launched by Rehan Jalil, a Pakistani-American alumnus of NED University of Engineering, Karachi, Pakistan. Elastica received $6.3 million funding from Mayfield Ventures, a premier Silicon Valley Venture Capital firm.

Several analysts have recently upgraded Fireeye to buy with the target price above $100.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fireeye Goes Public

Are there Good Hackers? 

Pakistani-Americans Enabling 2nd Machine Revolution

Pakistani-American Shahid Khan Richest South Asian in America

Two Pakistani-American Silicon Valley Techs Among Top 5 VC Deals

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Minorities Are Majority in Silicon Valley 

US Promoting Venture Capital & Private Equity in Pakistan

Pakistani-American Population Growth Second Fastest Among Asian-Americans

Edible Arrangements: Pakistani-American's Success Story

Pakistani-American Elected Mayor



Friday, July 11, 2014

Pakistan Mobile Money Revolution

Pakistan government is handing out Rs. 40,000 per family to nearly a million internally displaced persons (IDPs) through mobile service operator Zong's mobile SIMs. The government is attempting to ease the discomforts of displacement for such a large number of people displaced after the start of Pakistan Army's Operation ZarbeAzb  to root out terrorists from North Waziristan tribal agency. Zong is one of several mobile service operators offering Easypaisa m-money service. It was pioneered by Telenor Pakistan.

Easypaisa moved $3.5 billion in fiscal 2012-13. Bangladesh's bKash did $4 billion over the same period. These figures were well ahead of the $3.2 billion moved in comparable period by India's M-Pesa mobile money network, according to New York Times.  Over the last 12 months, the m-money market volume in Pakistan has reached 153 million annual transactions worth US$ 6.2 billion, according to Asian Development Bank.

Easypaisa M-money Growth in Pakistan (Source: ADB) 

Pakistan’s m-money infrastructure has grown rapidly since the launch of the first domestic initiative in October 2009. This expansion has been enabled by a liberal financial and telecommunications regulatory framework, and active private sector participation. Four out of five cellular mobile companies currently operating in Pakistan have launched m-money systems in partnership with financial institutions. The m-money market volume has reached 153 million annual transactions worth US$ 6.2 billion.

There are two ways through which m-money services are offered in Pakistan. Over 95% of m-money transactions are done through mobile banking (m-banking) agents, and the rest are processed directly through customers’ mobile-wallet (m-wallet) accounts, using mobile phones. M-banking agents (retail points) provide the basic infrastructure for Pakistan’s m-money services, whereas customers’ m-wallet accounts currently have a limited role in the m-money services market.

It is believed that the reason why India lags behind Bangladesh and Pakistan in mobile money is because its regulators require mobile operators to work with banks to provide the services. Mobile networks would prefer to have their own agents who can cash out the digital money into hard currency. Much of the infrastructure is already in place, because there are so many locations where customers can top up on airtime. But the mobile operators are not allowed to use those sales outlets as financial agents in India.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Branchless Mobile Banking Takes Off in Pakistan

Pakistan Ranks High in Microfinance

Pakistan Deploying Mobile Apps to Improve Governance

Pakistan Mobile Broadband Faster Than India's

Pakistan's Media and Telecom Revolution

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Mobile Connectivity in Pakistan Faster Than India

Even  before 3G and 4G roll-outs, Pakistan's mobile data users enjoy an average bandwidth of 1.5 Mbits/sec and peak bandwidth of 14.7 Mbits/sec, according to a report published by Akamai Technologies, Inc. The Akamai data includes usage from smartphones, tablets, computers, and other devices that connect to the Internet through mobile network providers. The only mobile broadband option available to users in Pakistan has so far been PTCL's EVO.

Results of Google-sponsored Survey in Pakistan Source: Express Tribune

Akamai Technologies, the creator of this report, operates an Internet content delivery network headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Akamai's network is one of the world's largest distributed-computing platforms, responsible for serving between 15 and 30 percent of all web traffic around the world.

Mobile Broadband Speeds. Source: Akamai

Akamai report ranks 16 countries in Asia by mobile Internet speeds. South Korea tops the list with average 14.7 Mbits/sec and 41.3 Mbits/sec peak. Vietnam is at the bottom with 1.1 Mbits/sec average and 6.5 Mbits/sec peak. India ranks second from bottom with 1.3 Mbps average and 8.7 Mbps peak.

With 3G and 4G roll-outs currently underway in Pakistan by multiple carriers, companies like Zong are talking about delivering  speeds of up to 42 Mbps while other companies are offering 3G speeds of up to 21 Mbps. Even if they fall short, I expect that the average mobile broadband speeds in Pakistan should still be lot faster than what's available in the country today.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Rolls Out Mobile Apps in Public Sector

Pakistan Launches 100 MBPS FTTH Broadband

Mobile Internet to Overtake Desktop in 2014 in Pakistan

Biometric Information Technology in Pakistan

Power Theft in Pakistan

Mobile Banking in Pakistan

Mass Literacy Through Mobile Phones

Online Education in Pakistan

Pakistan's Telecom Revolution