Apple’s Steady Path Towards Family Robots

3 minute read
| Particle Debris

We haven’t heard about any rumors or patents related to an Apple family robot. That’s probably related to the fact that Apple has years to go before three major technologies come together to make one commercially feasible.

  1. AI – intuitive, generalized human conversation
  2. Autonomous operations – Navigation, situational awareness, collision avoidance
  3. Machining – making small moving parts—replicating arms, fingers, legs
Robot companions will need to be trustworthy, non-threatening.

Apple is working on related technologies in the form of its AI research and Siri, its autonomous vehicle in the form of Project Titan, and finally, its expertise in machining and materials science.

But these projects have many more years of work remaining before they can be merged together into into a family services robot that’s commercially affordable. But when the time is right, Apple will just have to get onto the game because Apple is the company we trust to do this right.

And when it comes to robots, trust is everything.

Meanwhile

Startling advances are being made. Here’s an example of what the Chinese are up to. (The R&D cost must have been staggering.) This is a must-see.

Also, Apple’s competitors will get a foot in the door with affordable, special purpose robots that seize on patents. See this from Mashable: “Amazon patents delivery robot that docks at your house.

In a patent approved Tuesday, Amazon shows how getting all your packages could be simplified (and quicker) if a retrieval robot stayed at your house and met up with delivery trucks on the street to bring back your orders.

Yes, that means the robot would live in your house, ready to pick up packages once notified.

And so the challenge for any company will be to enter the market with the right kind of robot, at the right capability level, at the right price, with an adequate portfolio of patents, leverage it, and earn customer trust. And then develop the robot capabilities and upgrades smartly as time goes on.

That’ll be a huge challenge.

More Debris

This next story reveals how the iPhone slowdown in sales is affecting factory workers in China. “Chinese workers who assemble the iPhone are literally lining up to quit a major Apple supplier thanks to falling sales.

According to the South China Morning Post, workers are lining up to resign after seeing wage reductions of up to 25% and losing perks such as free laundry.

As usual, the situation must be put into larger context. How many workers? How bad is it really? What’s the actual impact on Apple? Are fixes in the works? That said, a photo taken by the South China Morning Post is concerning.

• Moving on, here’s a good recap of what we might see at Apple’s rumored March 25 event. “March Apple expectations: News and TV event, iOS 12.2 release, AirPods 2 rumors.

In my opinion, this doesn’t feel like the kind of event where Apple will mix major announcements about its TV, news and gaming services with minor hardware upgrades.

• We’ve heard about AI putting people out of work, but there will also be AI and human partnerships to achieve productivity gains. That’s not talked about very much. Here’s a high-level introductory article for executives. “How Artificial Intelligence is Transforming Employee Productivity.

• And here’s a specific example of that partnership. “Microsoft Excel will now let you snap a picture of a spreadsheet and import it.

Microsoft is adding a very useful feature to its Excel mobile apps for iOS and Android. It allows Excel users to take a photo of a printed data table and convert it into a fully editable table in the app. This feature is rolling out initially in the Android Excel app, before making its way to iOS soon. Microsoft is using artificial intelligence [AI] to implement this feature

• It’s time to read up on the next generation RAM, called DDR5. Digital Trends has a beginner’s guide. “DDR5: Here’s everything you need to know about next-gen RAM.

child patient with VR headset.
Image credit: Loup Ventures.

• Finally, good things come from the elegant merger of two disparate technologies. In this case, Loup Ventures tells about research that merges VR and pain management. “VR Pain Management Miracles.” This is amazing work, and it show how creative, technically astute physicians can make dramatic gains in patient treatment.

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Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article(s) of the week followed by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

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CudaBoy
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CudaBoy

Why would anybody think Apple can do anything outside of Iphones and iOS stuff? What have they done in 10 years? Siri is dumber than a box of hammers and they can’t even lie correctly about their abject failure to come up with a car or car system. “Trust”? Why would you trust Apple’s stuff? Their (Our) Macs can be hacked just as easily as a PC – usually thru your browser or from the user doing a dumb thing online – look up the stats on Mac exploits. Face it, Apple is going to ride the baloney pony of… Read more »

Scott B in DC
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Scott B in DC

Why is it that when I read a story about “nice” robots the movies iRobot and The Matrix Trilogy comes to mind? There’s always “Open the pod bay doors, HAL!”

palmac
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palmac

Yes, that means the robot would live in your house, ready to pick up packages once notified.

And it will track when every member of the family enters or leaves the house, who is driving away and arriving in the car, when you mow your lawn, what your kids do when they go out to play, who visits you and when your home is empty of people. Google will then sell that data to anyone with money. Google will also act surprised that this is happening when it’s reported on the news.

geoduck
Member
geoduck

The ability in Excel to import a photo of a spreadsheet and make it into a spreadsheet is cool. Note XKCD from a few days ago where he joked about this very thing. https://xkcd.com/2116
Now we could actually do something with his .norm files