SoftBank, Saudi Arabia Announce World’s Largest Tech Fund

Over the weekend, during President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Japan’s SoftBank Group and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced the launch of a new tech fund that has so far secured $93 billion of capital. The “SoftBank Vision Fund is targeting a total of $100 billion within six months,” reports The Wall Street Journal, and plans to “steer capital to cutting-edge technologies in U.S. startups and other global firms.” SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son already promised to invest $50 billion of the new fund in American startups. Continue reading SoftBank, Saudi Arabia Announce World’s Largest Tech Fund

Disney Tests Prototype, Pursues Patent for Soft-Bodied Robot

Disney recently submitted a patent application for “a robot that will move and physically interact like an animated character.” The prototype sketch with the application shows a round body similar to the soft-robot character in Disney’s 2014 “Big Hero 6.” Before soft-body robots can be employed at Disney theme parks, the company will have to deal with the issue of robotic interaction safety, since the patent application implies that theme park guests will be able to hug the soft-body characters. Continue reading Disney Tests Prototype, Pursues Patent for Soft-Bodied Robot

Elon Musk’s Neuralink Corp. Seeks to Enhance Brains with AI

Tesla founder Elon Musk has launched a new company, Neuralink Corp., to dig deep into so-called neural lace technology that would merge the human brain with artificial intelligence. Musk already heads up two complex businesses. At Tesla, he is under pressure to deliver the Model 3, priced at $35,000, on time. At SpaceX, the ambitious plan is to launch both a satellite-based Internet business and a rocket to carry humans to Mars. Max Hodak, who founded robotic startup Transcriptic, is a member of Neuralink’s founding team. Continue reading Elon Musk’s Neuralink Corp. Seeks to Enhance Brains with AI

Nvidia’s Jetson TX2 Powers Devices with Artificial Intelligence

Nvidia unveiled its Jetson TX2 platform, designed for devices that have limited bandwidth like drones, traffic cameras, and manufacturing robots. Some of these devices, such as a camera drone, may capture large amounts of data without working in the cloud or a connected data center. Subsequently, these devices have to do most of the processing themselves and Jetson 3.0 promises to make them more powerful. The TX2 chip, which provides twice the performance of the TX1 while using only half the energy, is designed for artificial intelligence at the edge of a network. Continue reading Nvidia’s Jetson TX2 Powers Devices with Artificial Intelligence

Boston Dynamics Creates a Robot with Humanlike Movement

Boston Dynamics, a robotics company owned by Google’s parent Alphabet, has introduced a robot that is making leaps and bounds in the industry — literally. Handle, as the robot is called, can jump over obstacles, go down stairs, and lift objects up to 100 pounds. The impressive machine has two legs with wheels that allow it to move fluidly. Unlike other robots that generally move slowly and deliberately, Handle can use its momentum without losing control to get around more easily. Continue reading Boston Dynamics Creates a Robot with Humanlike Movement

Ford Pursues Self-Driving Tech, Invests $1 Billion in AI Startup

The Ford Motor Company is extending its foray into self-driving car technology with a $1 billion investment in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence startup. The newly formed startup, led by former Google and Uber self-driving experts, will initially develop the technology for Ford before licensing it to other companies. The move is part of Ford’s strategy to rebrand itself as more than a car manufacturer. The billion-dollar investment will roll out over the next five years. Argo AI will become a subsidiary of Ford that operates out of Pittsburgh, one of the main hubs of autonomous driving research. Continue reading Ford Pursues Self-Driving Tech, Invests $1 Billion in AI Startup

Android Creator Andy Rubin to Launch Smartphone This Year

Since leaving Google two years ago, Android operating system creator Andy Rubin has integrated his expertise in software with artificial intelligence to create consumer-facing Essential. The company, which was first registered in California in November 2015, has 40 employees, many from Apple and Google. Essential is first building an upscale smartphone whose large screen has no surrounding bezel. “Tablets, accessories and computer operating software for mobile phones” are also potential future products. Continue reading Android Creator Andy Rubin to Launch Smartphone This Year

Emotech Demos Olly: Your Lifestyle Assistant with Personality

At CES last week, Emotech, a UK-based startup, introduced a desktop robotic assistant named Olly that develops a unique personality depending on individual users and their interactions with it. The doughnut-shaped, voice-controlled personal assistant is similar in function to the other smart lifestyle assistants. It will play you music or tell you the weather like Amazon’s Alexa, but the company hopes Olly’s personality will set it apart. The device has two cameras and a microphone array, allowing it to face the user, and will use a combination of AI techniques to decipher a user’s state of mind and respond accordingly. Continue reading Emotech Demos Olly: Your Lifestyle Assistant with Personality

LG Goes Big on Wi-Fi-Connected Appliances, Robots at CES

At CES 2017, LG stated that this year all of its home appliances will include “advanced Wi-Fi connectivity.” One flagship product is its Internet-connected Smart InstaView Refrigerator that supports Amazon’s Alexa; no price has been announced. Features of the webOS appliance include stickers and tags to be attached to items in the refrigerator, which will signal the consumer when a food item in question is about to expire, and the ability to remotely view the inside of the refrigerator via a camera mounted inside. Continue reading LG Goes Big on Wi-Fi-Connected Appliances, Robots at CES

Tech Startups Pitch Innovative New Drone Concepts at CES

The VR, AR and Robotics Pitch Competition at CES in Las Vegas included three drone-related entertainment tech startups. The Fotokite, from Zurich-based Perspective Robotics, is a tethered drone camera system. The $249 consumer version unfolds from an easy-carry tube and flies like a kite, but unlike a kite it works to maintain its position and camera angle relative to the handheld ‘kite’ tether. Dotterel “takes the drone out of drones” with technology that was developed to make it possible to record audio from a drone without the loud background buzz. And Boxfish Research showed a simple-to-operate submarine ROV with two universal camera mounts for capturing 360-degree video. Continue reading Tech Startups Pitch Innovative New Drone Concepts at CES

CES 2017: That Just Happened – Closing Day Takeaways

CES 2017 may be best remembered not for one standout product, but for revealing a new and powerful generation of technology and the things it enables. The top five CES hashtags as the show ended perfectly summarize the hot topics of the week: #tech, #iot, #ai, #VR, and #CES. It was also a remarkably balanced show in the sense that almost every product category and business sector reflected applications and the impact of this evolution. Moore’s Law is alive, tomorrow is here, and the pace is accelerating. Three of the most important presentations of the week were made by Nvidia, Intel, and Qualcomm. Their processors deliver the power necessary for this next level of computing. Continue reading CES 2017: That Just Happened – Closing Day Takeaways

CES 2017: Distinguishing Between Machine Learning and AI

As predicted, artificial intelligence has been one of the most repeated phrases of CES 2017. It seems every other vendor here is slapping the “AI” label on its technology. So much so that it inspired us to take a (short) step back and look at what AI is in relation to machine learning. The reality is: there are still very few applications that can be legitimately labeled as artificial intelligence. Self-driving cars, DeepMind’s AlphaGo, Hanson Robotics’ Sophia robot, and to a lesser extent Alexa, Siri and the Google Assistant, are all AI applications. Most of the rest, and certainly most of what we’ve seen here at CES, are robust, well productized machine learning applications (usually built on neural network architectures), often marketed as AI. Continue reading CES 2017: Distinguishing Between Machine Learning and AI

CES 2017: Conference Sessions Explore Products and Trends

Beyond the sights and spectacle of CES, almost 2.5 million square feet of exhibits, 3,800 exhibiting companies, and 175,000 attendees, are oases of insight and information to be found among more than 300 conference sessions. CES conferences leverage the attendance of senior executives, experts, and policymakers to populate panels that cover the spectrum of product categories, tech trends, and consumer interests represented throughout the show. Eight SuperSessions feature senior leaders grappling with their experiences in emerging sectors, while 44 different tracks explore a wide range of timely topics. Continue reading CES 2017: Conference Sessions Explore Products and Trends

CES Will Showcase Differential Privacy for Autonomous Living

At CES 2017, Honda’s theme will be a “cooperative mobility ecosystem,” a confluence of last year’s two showstoppers: autonomous driving and the rise of artificial intelligence. These arenas could foster mass adoption of differential privacy. Data aggregation is critical to the success of autonomous driving, and the AI-centric, newly coined notion of autonomous living, but this collection requires user buy-in. With nearly half of all Internet users expressing that privacy and security concerns are limiting their use of the Internet, new means of protecting user data will be a key theme throughout CES. Continue reading CES Will Showcase Differential Privacy for Autonomous Living

CES: From Learning to Thinking Machines – the AI Explosion

Artificial Intelligence is finally here. After nearly 50 years in the doldrums of research, the science of designing “thinking machines” has jumped from academic literature to the lab, and even from the lab to the store. This is largely because its precursor, machine learning, has been enjoying a dramatic revival, thanks in part to the commoditization of sensors and large-scale compute architectures, the explosion of available data (necessary to train advanced machine learning architectures such as recurrent neural networks), and the always burning necessity for tech companies to find something new. We expect AI to have a significant presence at next month’s CES in Las Vegas. Continue reading CES: From Learning to Thinking Machines – the AI Explosion

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