Rewired launches $100 million robotics-focused venture studio and fund

Investments will focus on applied science and technologies that advance machine perception and unlock the next-generation of smart robotics

Rewired has launched a robotics venture studio and fund. To start with, the company is investing $100 million in applied science and technologies that advance machine perception. 

Rewired says its initial proposition is that improving machine perception will unlock the next generation of smart robotics.

To that end, the company is focusing on the sensors, software, and systems that help autonomous machines to interact with unpredictable environments and collaborate with humans.  Continue reading Rewired launches $100 million robotics-focused venture studio and fund

South Korea’s largest airport has hired robots made by LG to assist travellers

lg electronics robot for airports small
The LG Airport Guide Robot

South Korea’s largest airport – Incheon International Airport, in Seoul – has given jobs to a number of robots made by LG Electronics. 

The mobile machines are designed to enable travellers to scan their tickets to get flight information and they can escort them to the flight gates.

Alternatively it can just provide directions to locations within the airport, complete with walking distances and times, or information about the traveller’s eventual destination, such as weather and other details.  Continue reading South Korea’s largest airport has hired robots made by LG to assist travellers

Innovative sensors are empowering the smart factory robot, says AMS

ams Industrial-Robotics

By Mark Donovan

The next industrial revolution is arriving on a shore near you. It’s called Industry 4.0, and like its three predecessors, it’s about to bring sweeping changes to manufacturing that will globally affect everyone.

Industry 4.0, and the resulting manufacturing changes that are coming with it, have spawned a new type of production plant called the smart factory.

Central to the smart factory is the prolific use of autonomous and collaborative robots that work symbiotically with each other and alongside human beings to yield a more productive and efficient manufacturing plant.  Continue reading Innovative sensors are empowering the smart factory robot, says AMS

Six new trends in home automation

Amazon Echo Dot
Amazon’s Echo Dot, the voice-controlled Alexa-enabled device, can connect to a wide range of your smart home gadgets

By Megan Wild, editor of

It’s an exciting time to be a homeowner, but it can also be overwhelming. It seems every week there is a new smart home product on the market that can automate various aspects of your life, and it can be tough to decide which direction to go.

Like all new technology, there is a certain amount of risk involved. You don’t want to jump on something too early, only for it to be outdated and forgotten about a year later.

On the flip side, there is also that natural feeling of wanting to keep up with the trends in order to maximize your home value — not to mention take advantage of all of the cool features many of these devices have.

Here are six trends in smart home automation that are relatively safe bets for the foreseeable future.  Continue reading Six new trends in home automation

Tend claims launch of first ‘smart cloud’ to enable remote control of robots in.control

Tend says its new in.control platform is the first smart cloud robotics platform for remote control, monitoring and analysis of production lines. 

Tend announced it has introduced the first hardware-agnostic, smart cloud robotics software platform that allows manufacturers to remotely control, monitor and analyze the performance of their robots and production equipment from their mobile devices.

Tend’s in.control – short for “intelligent control” – software has made smart manufacturing simple and accessible for companies of all sizes, allowing them to monitor and control any robot, tending any machine, from any location.  Continue reading Tend claims launch of first ‘smart cloud’ to enable remote control of robots

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 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, 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’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’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

Microscan demonstrates industrial robot using MicroHawk smart cameras


Microscan, a provider of barcode, machine vision, verification, and lighting technology, has demonstrated flexible in-line inspection using the Universal Robots collaborative UR5 robotic arm and Microscan’s latest machine vision smart camera platform.

The robotic demo, at Automate 2017, featured what the company claims is “the world’s smallest Ethernet smart camera”, was given in partnership with Olympus Controls, an engineering services company specializing in machine automation.

The lightweight, flexible, and collaborative industrial robot – UR5 – automates repetitive and dangerous tasks with payloads of up to 5 kg.  Continue reading Microscan demonstrates industrial robot using MicroHawk smart cameras

Recharging the energy industry: Managing demand and constraint

city at night overview

Partners in industrial automation, Martyn Williams, managing director of industrial software expert, Copa-Data UK and Mark Hardy, CEO of Capula, reveal how new technologies, such as smart grids, big data and business intelligence enable a more efficient use of resources in the industry

Humans have always searched for ways to harness energy, whether it be to complete laborious tasks or just improve their livelihood.

Propelled by the discoveries and inventions of the industrial revolution, this thirst for innovation has led to humanity’s quest for more powerful, smarter and more efficient energy sources.

Recent years have seen a new wave of technology and opportunities hit the energy sector, several of which have been presented by the onset of big data and Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

Ensuring that supply meets the customers’ demand is a key responsibility of the energy industry, however, these smart technologies are changing the way the grid generates, manages, distributes and stores energy.  Continue reading Recharging the energy industry: Managing demand and constraint

Rethink Robotics agrees distribution deal with Aldakin Automation in Spain


Aldakin Automation will distribute Rethink’s Sawyer throughout the country

Rethink Robotics has reached an agreement with Aldakin Automation to distribute its collaborative robots to the entire Spanish manufacturing market.

Fresh off the launch of its new Intera 5 software, which can coordinate a work cell from a single Sawyer robot, Rethink Robotics says it aims to help manufacturers across the globe improve automation and production tasks.  Continue reading Rethink Robotics agrees distribution deal with Aldakin Automation in Spain

Industry super trends: The best of industrial automation is yet to come

ethernet ports

Leroy Spence, sales and business manager at industrial spare supplier EU Automation, discusses the industry super trends that will change the face of manufacturing in 2017

The third Monday in January, also known as Blue Monday, is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year.

Despite emerging from marketing and pseudo-science, the idea holds a nugget of wisdom, considering the weather conditions, debt level, time passed since the winter holidays and time until the next holiday.

If you are struggling to get over the post-holiday blues, don’t despair. Sit back, relax and read all about some of the industrial technologies you can look forward to this year.  Continue reading Industry super trends: The best of industrial automation is yet to come

Distec and Red Lion Controls host event to demonstrate smart factory technology

distec red lion

Industrial computing specialist Distec is partnering with industrial automation and networking expert Red Lion Controls to host a smart factory day on March 28, 2017.

The event, which will be held at the De Vere Cranage Estate in Cheshire, UK is designed to give plant managers an overview of the benefits of smart factory technology.

The day will feature speakers discussing their experiences using the latest automation technology to build smart factory environments.

Plant managers and engineers can also view live demo kits to get a hands-on experience of the automation technology that’s helping to build the current and next generation of smart factory. Technical staff will also be on hand to answer questions about the technology and its use in factories.  Continue reading Distec and Red Lion Controls host event to demonstrate smart factory technology

Healthcare’s digital revolution: Technologies transforming medicine

Jonathan Wilkins, marketing director of obsolete parts supplier, EU Automation discusses technologies that are revolutionising healthcare in the 21st century

Doctor Crawford W. Long conducted the first surgical operation under anaesthetic in 1841 in Jefferson, Georgia.

In 1841, general anaesthetic had not yet been invented, so Dr Long used diethyl ether, a chemical most commonly used to start internal combustion engines, in its place.

The surgeon pressed an ether-soaked towel to the patient’s face to put him to sleep before removing a tumour from his neck. He billed the patient two dollars for the whole procedure.  Continue reading Healthcare’s digital revolution: Technologies transforming medicine

Smart travel for future cities: Integrating and connecting new tram lines

Smart travel for future cities

The main feature that makes a public transport system smart is enhanced control and monitoring features.

In the case of the Nottingham trams Express Transit project, in the UK, these functionalities became a reality through the collaboration of big industry names such as Taylor Woodrow, Alstom, and Boulting Technology.

Nottingham Express Travel Phase Two

In a bid to become one of the UK’s first smart cities, Nottingham has recently expanded its existing tram network to include two new lines to serve the South and South West of the city.

The first new line crosses the river Trent to Clifton and the second connects the Queens Medical Centre, Beeston and Toton.

The new routes join the existing line at Nottingham Station, with the entire network accommodating over 20 million passengers every year.  Continue reading Smart travel for future cities: Integrating and connecting new tram lines

Big feature: Historic opportunities presented by smart cities

city by the water

Experts from the Arthur D Little consultancy provide a detailed overview of the historic, “trillion-dollar” opportunity presented by the move to smart cities, in this article by Ralf Baron, Morsi Berguiga, Jaap Kalkman, Adnan Merhaba, Ansgar Schlautmann, Karim Taga

The 100 largest cities in the world produce 25 per cent of the planet’s wealth. To succeed, more and more cities are going “smart” in order to meet their biggest challenges and enrich the quality of their citizens’ lives.

This unstoppable trend is driving double-digit growth in a trillion-dollar global market.

What are the opportunities for telecom companies, utilities, financial institutions, transportation companies, software developers, equipment manufacturers and others in the smart-city market?  Continue reading Big feature: Historic opportunities presented by smart cities

Smart trash bin automatically separates and sorts out rubbish

bin-e intelligent trash can

It probably looks more stylish than your average bin, and it’s definitely a whole lot smarter. 

What’s being described at the world’s first smart trash can is being developed in Poland.

Its makers, at a company called Bin-e, say the “intelligent bin” will not only facilitate work in an ecologically friendly environment but also allow us to save time devoted to garbage segregation at work.  Continue reading Smart trash bin automatically separates and sorts out rubbish