Future Tech: Plus…shark-tracking drones & a sutra-chanting robot.
A voice-activated refrigerator designed to assist those with mobility issues
We don’t know how the kitchens of our future will work, but Panasonic’s vision includes a moving refrigerator that responds to voice commands. The company was showing off a concept for such a device that, if we’re lucky, might make it to our homes in the next few decades.
Essentially, the Movable Fridge is little more than a coolbox glued on top of a robot vacuum cleaner with a voice interface. With its built in LIDAR and depth sensor, the device would — theoretically — scan your home and be able to navigate around on its own.
The idea, according to the company, is that the unit would always listen out for your command, such as “Fridge, come here.” Then, it would emerge from its hole in your kitchen wall and scoot over to you without bumping into your household pets.
Drones designed to spot sharks
From Popular Mechanics:
Last year, there were 26 unprovoked shark attacks on humans in Australia, two of them fatal. Researchers in Australia are working towards reducing those numbers through a drone capable of detecting sharks through a machine-learning algorithm.
The drones are the result of a partnership between The Little Ripper Group, a private company focused on search and rescue drones, working with researchers from the University of Technology Sydney’s (UTS) School of Software. Little Ripper provides the drones, UTS provides the algorithm.
“The automated system for detection and identification of sharks in particular, and marine life/objects more generally, was developed using cutting edge deep neural networks and image processing techniques,” says Professor Michael Blumenstein, Head of the School of Software in the Faculty of Engineering and IT in a statement.
A robot programmed to lead funerals
From The Verge:
After working in the home, as an assistant at various stores, and as a waiter, SoftBank’s humanoid robot Pepper is adding Buddhist priest to the list of careers the robot can take on. Pepper can chant sutras in a computerized voice while hitting a drum, reports Reuters, as detailed at the creepily-named Life Ending Industry Expo in Tokyo.
The company Nissei Eco wrote the software for the Buddhist chants and said because of Japan’s shrinking and aging population, Buddhist priests weren’t getting as much monetary support from the community and have to work other jobs away from temple to make ends meet.
Pepper’s abilities were developed so it could hold funerals when there weren’t any Buddhist priests readily available. That, and using a robot is much cheaper — about $350 compared to $2,200 for a human priest…
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