Info-tech

TechM to flip panchang, use tech for weather prediction

M Ramesh Chennai | Updated on November 02, 2020

Tech Mahindra’s Maker’s Lab is working on a weather channel that will also use “age-old wisdom” for providing well-in-advance forecasts — the panchang.

The ‘pi’, or ‘panchang intelligence’, is at an advanced stage of development.

According to Kanchan Bhonde, who heads ‘agritech research and product strategy’ at Maker’s Lab, effort is on to compare weather predictions made in the annual panchangs going back decades with the actual weather events.

“We are seeing some interesting results,” Bhonde said, at a recent webinar on precision agriculture, organised by Pravartak, a technology innovation hub hosted by IIT Madras, under the National Mission for Interdisciplinary Cyber Physical Systems.

At times the panchang has been right and the IMD prediction wrong, she told BusinessLine today.

The rationale behind the project is, while there are many weather prediction models, there is hardly any that gives well-in-advance forecasts. “But farmers have to plan a lot in advance. This kind of information is not easily available.”

However, there are different almanacs that have their own approaches to weather prediction. Maker’s Lab researchers are analysing them all, Bhonde said.

The idea is to bring in an app. You punch in a date and a location, and the app will tell you what the panchang-prediction is.

Sounds like pseudo science? “We are aware of that (viewpoint),” says Bhonde. She notes that panchangs themselves were products of “data science of those days”, and built on the basis of innumerable observations.

But Tech Mahindra is not stopping with panchang; the weather channel the company would come up with shall provide forecasts based on multiple sources — panchang, the IMD as well as data from IoT-connected devices, sensors and other instruments.

Accordingly, Tech Mahindra’s weather channel would have two broad elements: A panchang-based model “to provide suggestions on an overall level in a given area” and an “IoT sensor-based tool to capture various parameters such as wind direction, rainfall, temperature and humidity.

Maker’s Lab is working on several other products for precision agriculture as well. One is a ‘modern scarecrow’, a camera that will identify an intruding animal or bird and sound it away; and a hologram solution to project a human image. Other products include a data bank of pests and their natural predators and an app, called Darpan, to provide personal income and expenditure details for a farmer, with a provision for telling apart farm-related and household income and expenditure.

Published on November 02, 2020

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