Qualcomm and Apple’s legal battle may indicate the future of cars, as Foxconn looks to build driverless tech factory

The legal battle between Qualcomm and Apple may portend the future direction of car technology.

Qualcomm says Apple manufacturers are not paying the correct amount of money for the chipmaker’s intellectual property the iPhone maker is licensing – basically they’re not paying anything.

The lower, or absent, payments probably account for Qualcomm’s patent licensing business falling 42 per cent this year, according to CNBC.  Continue reading Qualcomm and Apple’s legal battle may indicate the future of cars, as Foxconn looks to build driverless tech factory

Apple to build three ‘big, big, big’ manufacturing plants in the US, claims Trump

President Donald Trump says Apple CEO Tim Cook has committed to building “three big manufacturing plants in the US”, according to a report on the Wall Street Journal website. 

In an interview with the business and investment newspaper, Trump is reported to have said: “I spoke to [Cook], he’s promised me three big plants – big, big, big.

“I said you know, Tim, unless you start building your plants in this country, I won’t consider my administration an economic success. He called me, and he said they are going forward.”  Continue reading Apple to build three ‘big, big, big’ manufacturing plants in the US, claims Trump

Foxconn to manufacture ‘95 per cent’ of new Apple iPhone 8

iphones

Foxconn is to produce 95 per cent of the new Apple iPhone, the eighth incarnation of the device, according to a report on PatentlyApple.com

It’s not clear from the story whether any of the production will take place in the US, although that’s unlikely given that Foxconn hasn’t even chosen where in the US to expand its manufacturing operations.

The Taiwanese manufacturer has been considering its options, and Michigan is said to be one of the locations being scouted.  Continue reading Foxconn to manufacture ‘95 per cent’ of new Apple iPhone 8

Interview: Fast-moving robotics and automation market prompts updates to forecasts

apple homepod
The new Apple HomePod, the home automation device which mostly acts like a speaker and plays music

The global market for robotics and automation systems is growing so fast that it’s causing seasoned industry analysts to revise their forecasts. 

For example, the Boston Consulting Group released a report into the robotics which it has now updated with new numbers.

The causes of the reviews include the relatively new interest in personal robotics technology for the home, and the burgeoning market in collaborative robots for industry.

Another key development is the launch of the Apple HomePod, which, along with Amazon Alexa and Google Home, looks set to automate a huge number of homes to levels never seen before.

Continue reading Interview: Fast-moving robotics and automation market prompts updates to forecasts

Foxconn evaluating US locations for $10 billion expansion plans

foxconn
A Foxconn production line with workers making iPhones. Picture: Flickr

Foxconn, the main manufacturer for Apple’s smartphones and tablet computers, is looking for locations in the US to invest $10 billion into setting up factories, according to a variety of reports in the media. 

The company has already earmarked $7 billion for a display panel factory after buying the Sharp electronics company, although it’s not certain where it will be located.

The Taiwanese company’s newly found interest in the US comes after President Donald Trump made it clear that he prioritises the reinvigoration of the country’s manufacturing base.  Continue reading Foxconn evaluating US locations for $10 billion expansion plans

Apple confirms it’s developing autonomous car technology

apple car, bmw
One artist’s concept of what an Apple car might look like

By Abdul Montaqim

Apple CEO Tim Cook has confirmed that the tech giant is working on software for self-driving cars, according to Bloomberg

Cook calls the development effort “the mother of all AI projects”.

Apple has been rumoured to be working on building a driverless car for some time, but the company has never directly confirmed anything.  Continue reading Apple confirms it’s developing autonomous car technology

Apple unveils home automation device and the most expensive desktop computer ever

apple ceo tim cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook welcomes developers from 75 different countries to WWDC 2017

So the rumours were true about the home automation device. Some of the other rumours ahead of the ongoing Apple Worldwide Developers Conference were also true, but then there have been some surprises as well. 

First, the home automation device. Apple has launched what it calls HomePod – a voice assistant much like Amazon Alexa-enabled Echo and Google Home – within which Siri will live.

The question with such voice devices is always, how good are they at conversation with humans? In general, natural language processing technology is not yet able to understand human speech well enough to make such devices easy to use.  Continue reading Apple unveils home automation device and the most expensive desktop computer ever

Microtechnology exhibition to showcase innovations in watchmaking and medicine

epjh entrance

It’s not one of the most famous exhibitions in the world, and not the biggest, but that’s probably appropriate for EPHJ, because it’s all about small things, or – more accurately – what’s called the “microtechnology” sector. 

Microtechnology includes such things as watchmaking, jewellery making, and precision instrumentation for medicine, all of which are relatively large business sectors in Switzerland, where EPHJ is being held, on 20-23 June 2017 – Geneva, to be exact.

Now in its 16th year, the event is described as “an unmissable event for high-precision manufacturers, with exhibitors from the worlds of watchmaking and jewellery, microtechnology and medtech”.  Continue reading Microtechnology exhibition to showcase innovations in watchmaking and medicine

Foxconn considers options for establishing multi-billion-dollar manufacturing facilities in the US

foxconn board

Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturing giant which makes Apple devices among other things, is considering its locations, incentives and other options for establishing manufacturing facilities in the US. 

Among the locations being discussed are two cities in Oakland County, in the state of Michigan; and the amounts being mentioned range from $4.2 billion to $7 billion.

The Crain’s Detroit website reported that Foxconn’s expansion would create 2,000 to 5,000 jobs in the southeast Michigan area, but the situation is fast moving.  Continue reading Foxconn considers options for establishing multi-billion-dollar manufacturing facilities in the US

Apple extends Swift programming language to support robotics

swift_playgrounds_elephant

Apple has updated Swift Playgrounds, its educational coding app for iPad, to include what the company describes as “new way to learn to code using robots, drones and musical instruments”.

Swift Playgrounds is aimed at students and beginners learning to code with Swift, Apple’s programming language for building apps.

Apple says it is working with leading device makers to make it easy to connect to Bluetooth-enabled robots within the Swift Playgrounds app, allowing users to program and control popular devices, including Lego Mindstorms Education EV3, the Sphero SPRK+, Parrot drones and more.  Continue reading Apple extends Swift programming language to support robotics

Apple developing processor especially for AI

Apple A10 chip for iPhone 7
Picture of chip for iPhone 7 via ExtremeTech.com

Apple is developing a processor specially for artificial intelligence applications, according to a report on Bloomberg

The maker of iPhones, iPads and a number of other computing devices and machines is said to refer to the chip internally as the “Apple Neural Engine”.

Bloomberg, which says its source requested anonymity, adds that the AI-dedicated chip will be used for facial recognition, speech processing and other tasks which require the processing of large amounts of data.  Continue reading Apple developing processor especially for AI

Apple invests $200 million into Corning’s ‘revolutionary’ glass production methods

apple corning investment
Corning recaptures glass material for use in the production process and to help reduce waste. Pictures courtesy of Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently set up a $1 billion fund for the tech giant to invest in advanced manufacturing in the US, and the company has allocated $200 million of that money to a company called Corning

Corning – which has been supplying the cover glass for iOS devices for the past 10 years – will receive the $200 million from Apple’s new Advanced Manufacturing Fund as part of what Apple calls its “commitment to foster innovation among American manufacturers”.

The investment will support Corning’s research and development, capital equipment needs and “state-of-the-art glass processing”.  Continue reading Apple invests $200 million into Corning’s ‘revolutionary’ glass production methods

Apple begins manufacturing iPhones in India

apple foxconn india hyderabad

After months of protracted negotiations, Apple has started manufacturing its iPhones in India. 

The factory is variously said to be in Bengaluru, Hyderabad and / or Karnathaka. Not knowing the geography all that well, we think this is slightly south-west of the middle of India.

The picture above is from IndRead.com, which seems to suggest Foxconn is setting up and running the factory. Foxconn is the Taiwanese company which manufactures most of Apple’s products.

Apple has begun making what was described as “a small number” of iPhones in the country, although a “small number” could mean hundreds of millions, considering there are more than a billion iPhones in the world today.

In comments to CNBC, Apple said, “We are beginning initial production of a small number of iPhone SE in Bengaluru”, adding that it plans to begin shipping to customers as early as this month.  Continue reading Apple begins manufacturing iPhones in India

Apple to invest $1 billion in advanced manufacturing companies in the US

Apple CEO Tim Cook. Reuters / Robert Galbraith / File Photo
Apple CEO Tim Cook. Reuters / Robert Galbraith / File Photo

By Stephen Nellis, Reuters

Apple plans to create a $1 billion fund to invest in US companies that perform advanced manufacturing, chief executive officer Tim Cook said a few days ago, the iPhone maker’s latest effort to show how it is creating US jobs.

The Cupertino, California company will announce the fund’s first investment later in May, Cook said during an interview on CNBC.

Cook also said Apple plans to fund programs that could include teaching people how to write computer code to create apps, and will release more details about the effort this summer.

The announcements were the latest in a series of disclosures to highlight how Apple, the world’s largest company by market valuation, contributes to job creation in the United States. Apple came under fire from President Donald Trump during his campaign because it makes most of its products in China.  Continue reading Apple to invest $1 billion in advanced manufacturing companies in the US

How Burger King’s OK Google ad exposed flaws in home automation

Burger King recently decided to try something different to promote its classic Whopper. The fast food giant aired a commercial in which a Burger King employee who says he doesn’t have time to talk about all of the ingredients in a Whopper comes up with another way for customers to learn about its ingredients.

The employee leans into the camera and says “OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?” This activated Google’s smart speakers — Google Home, and that’s when people started having fun. The actual ingredient list, as published on Wikipedia, was edited with some items replaced with things like children, toe-nail clippings and rat — among other creative ingredients.

Google wasn’t in on the plan, which led to an interesting chain of events that exposed some of the weaknesses of virtual assistants and home automation.

Voice Recognition
The Burger King ad pointed out an issue with voice-activated home automation devices. It’s not difficult for people besides the primary owners to manipulate them.

With some creativity, someone may find a way to do something more nefarious than manipulate the ingredients of your favorite burger. If clever had turned to criminal, this would be an easy way for hackers to manipulate virtual assistants.

Learning to recognize specific users’ voices would help minimize these problems and give people more control over their devices. To get around this issue, tech companies need to start improving the voice recognition capabilities of their VAs, which they are currently working on.

Google
Google responded to the ad by changing their devices so the voice in the ad wouldn’t wake them. They probably did this by getting the device to recognize the voice and then compare it to a blacklist before responding.
This worked for a while, but Burger King got around it by airing similar commercials featuring different actors. Google has said it’s working on the ability to recognize the voices of multiple users.

Amazon
Amazon, which manufactures one of the more popular smart speakers, is also working on multiple user functionality. Users would have to set up this feature in advance by recording a voice sample. Currently, Amazon’s Alexa can recognize more than one user, but you have to switch accounts by saying “switch accounts” or by using the Alexa app.

Microsoft
Microsoft’s Cortana appears on Windows 10 devices, as well as some third-party devices, including smart speakers made by Harman Kardon. Although Microsoft hasn’t gotten as much attention as some other players in the home automation game, Cortana does respond pretty well to voice commands.
You can even train Cortana to recognize your voice and set it to respond to only you. It’s probably a pretty safe bet, too, that Microsoft is working on improving this functionality.

Apple
Apple’s Siri has some ability to recognize speech patterns of particular users. The company doesn’t have smart speakers on the market yet, but it has been rumored to be working on them. Voice recognition is likely a top priority for Apple as it works on this technology, as it’s important to the security and privacy of its users.

It’s even been rumored that Apple may use facial recognition technology to verify users. The fact that Apple typically only allows Siri to work with its devices, and not third-party ones, presents another challenge.

Home automation and virtual assistants are just starting to take off, and this Burger King kerfuffle is likely just one of many slightly strange happenings that will occur as they develop. Although Google didn’t seem to like the ad — it blocked its devices from responding — and some users may have gotten annoyed, Burger King did succeed in getting itself some attention.

The ad put Google Home in the spotlight, too, and highlighted its capabilities, which is a plus for Google as well. It also highlighted some weaknesses in home automation, which tech companies will have to continue to address.

Megan Wild is editor of YourWildHome.com