Exhausted by the isolation, extra chores and sleepless nights of the coronavirus pandemic? Ask a robot to help you.
Companies launched artificial intelligence-enabled gadgets to make staying at home during the COVID-19 crisis easier, safer and less frustrating at this year’s first all-virtual consumer electronics show .
Many people adopted pets during the pandemic to facilitate their isolation. In fact, so many animals have been adopted from the shelters that a shortage has developed in some places. But if you missed out on adopting a real pet for cuddling, don’t worry.
Japanese company Vanguard Industries offers a furry robot named MOFLIN that affectionately coos, strokes its hand, and clearly enjoys being petted.
Very much like a tribble from the Star Trek TV show, the Fuzzy Love Bug has sensors and an algorithm that allow it to learn from its surroundings and human interactions.
Over time, the MOFLIN develops its own unique personality to make it even more like a real pet. The furry robot, which won the CES award for best robotics innovation, will be available this spring. No word yet on what it costs – but at least it’s homemade.
The high-tech Cradlewise Crib aims to help parents get through those first sleepless nights by using AI to learn a baby’s wake patterns, then rock him back to sleep.
Cradlewise uses a regular RGB camera (red, green, and blue) along with a 3D camera to detect movement and a range of microphones to detect sounds, including a baby’s cries. The microphones are arranged to cancel out background noise, so a crying baby on Netflix won’t confuse their system.
The sensors and AI software can then determine when the baby is close to waking up. At this point, if there is still time to sleep, the cradle moves smoothly up and down while playing soothing music to keep the baby in dreamland while alerting parents via their smartphone that the precious nap is almost. elapsed.
Cradlewise is the brainchild of founder and CEO of company Radhika Patil, developed after she and her husband struggled to find a sleep solution for their own baby.
“She was an extremely light sleeper,” Patil told Al Jazeera of her daughter.
So far, the Smart Cradle has only been available in California’s San Francisco Bay Area, where Patil said it saves parents more than two hours of extra sleep per day. But if you want a robot to rock your baby, it will cost you – Cradlewise will be available online for $ 1,499 from March 2021.
Help in the house
If you want a robot that is a little more mobile, there’s Scout – a sleek, high-tech contraption that can fit in the palm of your hand and slide around your house on highly ribbed wheels. Scout has sensors that allow him to avoid obstacles and move sideways around objects if necessary.
He is also happy to do the duty of watchdog. Scout has a camera behind his front panel and the AI allows him to determine if he sees a human or an animal. Scout can send a 13-second message to a mobile phone instantly via the cloud and internally record up to two hours of activity.
But for privacy reasons, there is no facial recognition software on Scout and the watch feature can be turned off, said Jun Ye, co-founder of Pilot Laboratories in San Diego, who worked with its subsidiary Moorebot on Scout.
Ye also stresses that Scouting is more than just surveillance.
“This robot is actually quite fun,” Ye told Al Jazeera. “It supports something called scratch – scratch language programming.”
Scratch is a graphical programming language that kids can use to teach the robot to do more things, Ye explained. Plus, Scout comes with a top port so people can customize it – by attaching a 3D printed robotic arm, for example.
Pets and kids are fun, of course, but also messy. If you want a robot to help you around the house, Samsung is working on Bot Handy – a creation that can load the dishwasher, pick up after the kids, and serve you a refreshing drink at the end of the day.
Bot Handy has an extension arm with a clamp and can stretch its height to reach the shelves. His AI ability allows him to recognize the shape and material of the object he’s gripping, so he’ll pick up a glass with just the right amount of pressure.
“Bot Handy can move around and do things like set the table or put away the groceries,” Sebastian Seung, director of Samsung Research, explained in a video at this year’s CES.
Unfortunately, for those hoping for help now with the dishes, Handy Bot is still in development.
But if Bot Handy isn’t yet available to pour you a glass of Pinot Grigio at the end of a long Zoom call, you can still brew your own beer.
INTHEKEG – developed by a South Korean company of the same name – is about the size of a dishwasher and can produce up to four varieties of beer per week.
The device uses prepackaged ingredients but allows users to develop their own craft beer flavor, the company said in an email. The company is also working to expand the types of drinks the machine can produce to possibly include kombucha, wine, and sake.
Of course, much of the craft beer brewing brags about it. But if you are having trouble texting after a few refreshing drinks, you might want to download a new keyboard on your phone that has 70% more space per key.
Conventional keyboards come from the typewriter age, and as they were pressed to fit cellphones, the keys became particularly narrow – a problem for typing with our round fingers, according to David Eberle, CEO and co-founder. from the Swiss company Typewise.
“Most mistakes are made in the horizontal dimension – so left or right of a specific key,” Eberle told Al Jazeera.
Typewise uses hexagons instead, which allows it to increase the wrench size by 70% – so your thumbs are less likely to make mistakes.
“By having larger key sizes, obviously, you’re more likely to hit the actual key you intended to hit,” Eberle explained.
The app also has privacy benefits: Typewise’s advanced autocorrect is fully contained within the user’s device itself, so no data is sent to a server in the cloud.
“Nothing the user types ever leaves their device at the keyboard,” Eberle added.
The latest iteration of Typewise, which will have a free version, will be available for download in February.