Interview with the inventors of near-field communications

Inventors of NFC: Franz Amtmann and Philippe Maugars
Inventors of NFC: Franz Amtmann and Philippe Maugars

They’re not the most famous scientists in the world, but they’re well known enough within the tech community, certainly after winning European Inventor Award recently. And the communication system they invented is used by hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Franz Amtmann and Philippe Maugars, who both work for NXP, invented near-field communications (NFC) technology, which is enabling an ever-increasing number of people to pay for their shopping and whatever through contactless payment systems – using either their bank card or smartphone.

NFC can thought of as being like Bluetooth, but is said to be a lot simpler. Closely related to radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, NFC has a range of about 20 centimetres, whereas Bluetooth has a range of about five to 10 metres. Continue reading Interview with the inventors of near-field communications

Your artificially intelligent assistant is ready to take a letter

boss dictates letter to secretaryOne of the many perks of being the boss of a reasonably sized company is having your own personal assistant, someone who you can dictate letters to, someone who keeps your diary updated, answers your phones and helps you organise your time so you are as efficient and as productive as you can be at work.

A good PA is often very highly paid, commensurate with the company and business sector he or she works for, and their image as super-fast typists and excellent organisers is one that is often celebrated and acknowledged.

However, the relationship between the boss and the PA could be about to change forever as a result of developments in artificially intelligent assistant technology. Already there are a number of artificially intelligent personal assistants – let’s call them AIPAs for now – on the market and according to some, they’re quite good. Continue reading Your artificially intelligent assistant is ready to take a letter

Study reveals how the way we live will change in the next 100 years

A team of leading academics has made a number of predictions for how we will live in the future. Many of the predictions were influenced by environmental conditions, with growing populations leading to the development of structures that are better able to cope with space constraints and diminishing resources.

Super-skyscrapers which will dwarf the Shard, underwater bubble cities and origami furniture are all likely to be reality in 100 years’ time. That’s the verdict of the new study which paints a vivid picture of our future lives; suggesting the way we live, work and play will change beyond all recognition over the course of the next century.

The SmartThings Future Living Report was authored by a team of leading academics including TV presenter and one of the UK’s leading space scientists, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, award-winning futurist architects and lecturers at the University of Westminster Arthur Mamou-Mani and Toby Burgess, as well as pioneering urbanists Linda Aitken and Els Leclerq. Continue reading Study reveals how the way we live will change in the next 100 years

Leading CEOs aim to transform business with computers that think like humans, says IBM

Left to right: Peter Korsten, Global Leader ,Thought Leadership and Eminence, IBM Global Business Services, Oki Matsumoto, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Monex Group, Inc., Paul Yonamine, General Manager, IBM Japan (Credit: IBM)
Left to right: Peter Korsten, Global Leader, Thought Leadership and Eminence, IBM Global Business Services, Oki Matsumoto, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Monex Group, Paul Yonamine, General Manager, IBM Japan (Credit: IBM)

Leading CEOs are placing more weight on cognitive computing – or computers that can simulate human thinking – according to a new IBM study.

In fact, half of leading CEOs believe cognitive computing will revolutionize their business in the next three to five years – 19 percent more than market-following CEOs and 35 percent more than all C-suite leaders combined.

According to a new IBM Institute for Business Value study, Redefining Competition: Insights from the Global C-suite Study – The CEO Perspective, leading CEOs place less emphasis on cloud and Internet of Things as a result of early adoption of these technologies, while market-following CEOs are just beginning to stress their importance. Continue reading Leading CEOs aim to transform business with computers that think like humans, says IBM

Kuka palletising robot becomes art exhibit

Kuka robot as art exhibit
Paratissima art fair: the palletizing robot from Kuka gives an excellent performance, even as a work of art

After 14 years of continuous operation, a Kuka palletizing robot took up a new function recently, appearing as an art exhibit at the Italian art fair Paratissima in Turin.

The palletizing robot used to be in charge of keeping things orderly: untiring, meticulous and reliable, the KUKA robot spent 14 years sorting boxes of hinges used in furniture production.

In November 2015, it gave up its role as a diligent organizer, embracing creative chaos instead. For this, professional body painters applied their skills to transforming the robot into a work of art.

The Kuka robot was on display at the renowned Italian art fair Paratissima in Turin.

“The project was an unusual opportunity for us to share our modern robot technology with a group of people with whom we would otherwise rarely come into contact,” enthused Gian Luca Branca, CEO of Kuka Italy.

VGo robot helps diagnose concussion on the football field

VGo robot
VGo robot being used to help diagnose concussion on football field

When the UA Wildcats hosted Northern Arizona University at the teams’ 2013 football season opener in Tucson, a new NAU “team member” stood on the sidelines, ready to make a bit of medical history.

VGo – a four-foot-tall telemedicine robot on wheels – was standing by, ready to assist, should any injured player show signs of concussion.

VGo – pronounced VEE-go – would relay vital, real-time information about the player’s condition to a neurologist with Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix. Mayo neurologists partnered with NAU to research the robot’s ability to accurately and effectively diagnose concussion, when the closest neurologist is far from the football field.

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Carnegie Mellon demonstrates autonomous helicopter and ground vehicle technology to US military

Carnegie Mellon demonstrated how autonomous aerial and ground vehicles can work together
Carnegie Mellon demonstrated how autonomous aerial and ground vehicles can work together
Robotics and automation experts at one of the world’s leading universities have demonstrated autonomous ground vehicles and aircraft with “new collaborative capabilities for keeping warfighters safe”.

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Sikorsky, A Lockheed Martin Company, using a UH-60MU Black Hawk helicopter enabled with Sikorsky’s Matrix Technology and CMU’s Land Tamer autonomous Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV), recently participated in a joint autonomy demonstration that they say proved the capability of new, ground-air cooperative missions.

Such missions could prevent warfighters’ exposure to hazardous conditions, such as chemically or radiologically contaminated areas, say the experts. Continue reading Carnegie Mellon demonstrates autonomous helicopter and ground vehicle technology to US military

Robot vision: Mine eyes have seen the glory of three dimensions

Euro NCAP has been conducting tests to see how well autonomous cars can see pedestrians
Euro NCAP has been conducting tests to see how well autonomous cars can see pedestrians

Exclusive interview with Claude Florin, CEO of Fastree3D, on helping robots finally see the light just that little bit better than they did before

How do robots see the world? Until now, most of them have had to make do with conventional digital cameras for eyes. In technological terms, these cameras are much like those available to consumers in the shops and, increasingly these days, in their smartphones. As clever as they are, and as high quality as the images turn out to be, these cameras only capture the image as a two-dimensional arrangement of pixels.

This means that a robot using such cameras would not able to perceive the three-dimensional space its “eyes” are looking at. This problem of perception – of perceiving 3D space as 2D space – is solved, or at least tackled, at the coding stage.

To program the robot to translate the flat image into a three-dimensional space, and infer such things as depth, distance and geospatial location, is really quite difficult if approached from a purely computer programming – as in, coding – standpoint.  Continue reading Robot vision: Mine eyes have seen the glory of three dimensions

Chicago Auto Show: Robots rev up their engines in preparation for final victory over human drivers

Chicago Auto Show
Chicago Auto Show

Autonomous cars have already taken over the world and are on the verge of making their final, decisive manoeuvre to eject humanity out of the driving seat. The machines have achieved their domination by using the humble and unsuspecting traditional car as their primary instrument of deception.

That’s according to David Sloan, Chicago Auto Show general manager, although he may not have put it in those exact words. Speaking to Chicago Sun-Times, Sloan says: “People might be surprised to know that most of the technology that will be used to make car autonomous in the future is already in cars today on our show floor.”

Surprised? Try shocked and terrified.

Sloan goes on to say: “All the safety technology that allows cars to automatically brake or park, even adaptive cruise control, is there. Vehicles are now safer, cleaner and more efficient than they have ever been and automakers are still able to make them perform really well. The technology is rapidly advancing, and we’re ready for it.”  Continue reading Chicago Auto Show: Robots rev up their engines in preparation for final victory over human drivers

The Floow of traffic is about to change forever

Exclusive interview with Dr Sam Chapman, of The Floow, about autonomous cars and intelligent transport systems of the future   

Dr Sam Chapman, chief innovation officer, The Floow
Dr Sam Chapman, chief innovation officer, The Floow

You might think driverless cars are a long way off, and anyway you wouldn’t even dream of even getting into one let alone allow one to drive you somewhere. Perhaps you’re a control freak. It’s a widely known fact that people who have phobias such as a fear of flying suffer these maladies mainly because they get stressed out when they’re not in control, especially at times when their life is at stake.

Most people probably reacted with some incredulity to pictures on the news media about five years ago of Google’s first driverless cars. They looked like your everyday family cars, except they looked as if they’d been pimped up by Frank Spencer, with what looked like glorified car radios stuck to the roof and on the dashboard, probably with sticky tape.  Continue reading The Floow of traffic is about to change forever

DataRobot raises $33 million in new funding

 DataRobot Inc. co-founders Jeremy Achin, left, and Tom DeGodoy. Picture: Anastasia Seifetdinova, via Wall Street Journal

DataRobot Inc. co-founders Jeremy Achin, left, and Tom DeGodoy. Picture: Anastasia Seifetdinova, via Wall Street Journal

Machine learning automation pioneer DataRobot has closed $33 million in Series B financing, bringing the total investment in the company to more than $57 million.

New Enterprise Associates (NEA) led the round, which also included Accomplice, Intel Capital, IA Ventures, Recruit Strategic Partners, and New York Life.

With customers and offices already established in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, and the United States, DataRobot is funded for aggressive expansion in global sales, marketing, business development, engineering, R&D, and strategic initiatives at all locations. Continue reading DataRobot raises $33 million in new funding

North American robotics market sets new records in 2015

Robots at Tesla auto factory
Robots at Tesla auto factory
Robot orders and shipments in North America set new records in 2015, according to Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group.

A total of 31,464 robots valued at $1.8 billion were ordered from North American companies during 2015, an increase of 14% in units and 11% in dollars over 2014.

Robot shipments also set new records, with 28,049 robots valued at $1.6 billion shipped to North American customers in 2015. Shipments grew 10% in units and nine percent in dollars over the previous records set in 2014. Continue reading North American robotics market sets new records in 2015

Tiny swarm robots could become first responders after earthquakes

The 1,000 swarm robots of the Kilobot Project at Harvard University
The 1,000 swarm robots of the Kilobot Project at Harvard University

It seems obvious now that in the event of an earthquake, tiny, swarm robots would be the most effective way of locating survivors in huge piles of rubble through which human emergency workers and first responders cannot make their way or even see.

So obvious that you wonder why they haven’t been developed and even deployed for that purpose already. Certainly the technology seems to be advanced enough – research into the area has been going at an accelerated pace for some time.

Looking at pictures of the collapsed building in Taiwan after the earthquake there on Saturday, there looks to be no way to go in for the emergency workers trying to rescue the survivors. The magnitude-7.6 quake is reported to have killed at least 41 people and more than 100 are said to be trapped in the rubble in that building alone. Continue reading Tiny swarm robots could become first responders after earthquakes

Yamaha’s motorbike-riding robot steps up a gear

MotoBot, Yamaha’s motorbike-riding robot
MotoBot, Yamaha’s motorbike-riding robot

Yamaha Motor Company says the company’s humanoid riding robot – MotoBot – has moved into the second phase of its development, and that the current partnership in joint development with SRI International is set to continue.

Presentations on the MotoBot headed by Yamaha Motor and SRI representatives took place at the last month’s CES, the global consumer electronics and technology trade show being held in Las Vegas, where in recent years, fields such as autonomous driving and robotics have been featured.

Being an automated humanoid robot able to ride a non-modified motorcycle, the MotoBot became a hot topic of conversation when it was exhibited at the 44th Tokyo Motor Show in 2015. Continue reading Yamaha’s motorbike-riding robot steps up a gear

euRobotics appoints new secretary general

Reinhard Lafrenz, new secretary general of euRobotics
Reinhard Lafrenz, new secretary general of euRobotics

The European robotics association – euRobotics – has appointed a new secretary general.

Reinhard Lafrenz was previously vice-president industry and takes over from current acting secretary general Uwe Haass.

Lafrenz signed his contract at the euRobotics board meeting after the board decided to select him based on a suggestion by the search committee. Continue reading euRobotics appoints new secretary general