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CES: The robots are coming

From robots that help one get around to robots that help one sleep, CES will host a huge line-up of humanoids that will assist daily tasks, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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As applications for robotics expand far beyond toys and education, CES has become the central event for manufacturers and designers to showcase the cutting-edge of this sector.
To start with, LG and NAVER LABS will be showing off robots that help people get around. These robots will help provide guidance to customers as well as help carry items on their behalf.
LG’s PorterBot, ServeBot, and CartBot, first introduced to the public at CES 2018, are designed for environments like airports, hotels, supermarkets and malls to assist customers, transport luggage, deliver meals and carry groceries. The latest LG service robots have been updated with a more advanced autonomous navigation system as well as enhanced connectivity to allow for communication with mechanisms like elevators and automatic doors.
“The progress made by our entire robot lineup points to our commitment to deliver a robotic solution for the real world in the very near future,” says Jin Seo Roh, head of LG Robotics.
LG’s robots use AI technology to analyse customers’ usage patterns in order to learn and improve performance continuously. Equipped with touch displays and voice recognition to facilitate natural interaction with customers, these robots can handle complex tasks, such as answering questions and processing payments. The robots are designed to operate independently, navigating to a charging station when power runs low, returning to duty once fully recharged, and performing daily self-diagnosis and automatic reporting.
NAVER LABS will be showcasing an autonomous guide robot, called AROUND, that provides guidance in large indoor spaces, such as shopping malls, airports, and hotels. It also provides intuitive information through AR navigation. High-precision indoor maps, visual and sensor localisation are all serviced over NAVER’s robotics platform to provide accurate location sensing and to guide users to their destination via the best route.
AROUND has been manufactured to increase the popularity of indoor autonomous robots whose high price tag has, so far, prevented penetration in the consumer market. As a result of manufacturers making these robots more accessible, people will be able to experience a number of indoor autonomous robot services in different spaces and environments
Click here to see how robots are becoming caregivers of the future.
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CES: Most useless gadgets

The worst gadgets of CES also deserve their moment of infamy, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s fairly easy to choose the best new gadgets launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Most lists – and there are many – highlight the LG roll-up TV, the Samsung modular TV, the Royole foldable phone, the impossible burger, and the walking car.

But what about the voice assisted bed, the smart baby dining table, the self-driving suitcase and the robot that does nothing? In their current renditions, they sum up what is not only bad about technology, but how technology for its own sake quickly leads us down the rabbit hole of waste and futility.

The following pick of the worst of CES may well be a thinly veneered attempt at mockery, but it is also intended as a caution against getting caught up in hype and justification of pointless technology.

1. DUX voice-assisted bed

The single most useless product launched at CES this year must surely be a bed with Alexa voice control built in. No, not to control the bed itself, but to manage the smart home features with which Alexa and other smart speakers are associated. Or that any smartphone with Siri or Google Assistant could handle. Swedish luxury bedmaker DUX thinks it’s a good idea to manage smart lights, TV, security and air conditioning through the bed itself. Just don’t say Alexa’s “wake word” in your sleep.

2. Smart Baby Dining Table 

Ironically, the runner-up comes from a brand that also makes smart beds: China’s 37 Degree Smart Home. Self-described as “the world’s first smart furniture brand that is transforming technology into furniture”, it outdid itself with a Smart Baby Dining Table. This isa baby feeding table with a removable dining chair that contains a weight detector and adjustable camera, to make children’s weight and temperature visible to parents via the brand’s app. Score one for hands-off parenting.

Click here to read about smart diapers, self-driving suitcases, laundry folders, and bad robot companions.

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CES: Language tech means no more “lost in translation”

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Talking to strangers in foreign countries just got a lot easier with recent advancements in translation technology. Last week, major companies and small startups alike showed the CES technology expo in Las Vegas how well their translation worked at live translation.

Most existing translation apps, like Bixby and Siri Translate, are still in their infancy with live speech translation, which brings about the need for dedicated solutions like these technologies:

Babel’s AIcorrect pocket translator

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The AIcorrect Translator, developed by Beijing-based Babel Technology, attracted attention as the linguistic king of the show. As an advanced application of AI technology in consumer technology, the pocket translator deals with problems in cross-linguistic communication. 

It supports real-time mutual translation in multiple situations between Chinese/English and 30 other languages, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Russian and Spanish. A significant differentiator is that major languages like English being further divided into accents. The translation quality reaches as high as 96%.

It has a touch screen, where transcription and audio translation are shown at the same time. Lei Guan, CEO of Babel Technology, said: “As a Chinese pathfinder in the field of AI, we designed the device in hoping that hundreds of millions of people can have access to it and carry out cross-linguistic communication all barrier-free.” 

Click here to read about the Pilot, Travis, Pocketalk, Google and Zoi translators.

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