Voice-activated, AI-driven assistants are increasingly being incorporated into a whole host of trendy gadgets, but the interactions between man and machine often remain a rather stiff process. One company is hoping to change that, by incorporating the technology into the art of meditation. Headspace, a popular meditation app valued at $320 million, announced this week it was acquiring Alpine.AI, a company that is working on a process to make virtual assistant interactions feel more natural. The idea is to have an AI-driven voice guide user through the meditation process and use machine learning to offer suggestions. If successful, the personalized virtual assistant technology could be applied to a whole host of products, particularly in the self-care industry.
One of the world’s oldest carmakers leapt into the future this week with the unveiling of its first ever fully-electric SUV. In a bid to rival industry leader Tesla, Mercedes-Benz this week showed off its luxury EQC model, which will enter into production next year. The vehicle boasts a range of 200 miles and is the first in a line of 10 EQ models that the German firm plans to roll out by 2022. Mercedes is investing more than €10 billion in its electric car division as it seeks to establish a foothold in the market and bring its vehicles in line with European emissions standards. BMW and Audi are also expected to unveil electric competitors later this year, while Jaguar has already begun production of its own electric car.
Europe’s largest tech fair, the IFA, wrapped up in Berlin this week and there were plenty of exciting (and strange) new devices on display. Samsung showed off its 85-inch 8K TV, while Polaroid gave its popular instant camera a 2018 update. There were plenty of less traditional gadgets as well, which industry experts say are a good indicator of where consumer interests are trending. Most notably, many devices were aimed at aiding sleep, including comfort-focused headphones for late-night podcast listening, wristbands that track rest patterns and bright lamps that help you wake up more peacefully. It seems tech companies are out to prove that future gadgets can help, not just hinder, your overnight snooze.
Future mobile devices may be taking a page from the past according to Samsung CEO DJ Koh. He told CNBC this week that it’s “time to deliver” a foldable smartphone. Unlike flip phones of the past, foldable smartphones will feature screens that actually bend. Koh was tightlipped on the details, but he hinted Samsung’s version of the handset could be unveiled at the company’s developer conference in November. Samsung has been rumored to be working on a foldable phone prototype ever since it revealed its bending screen technology back in 2012. Folding displays may in fact be the norm for a whole range of technology going forward - Lenovo is developing a laptop that incorporates it, while LG unveiled a bendable TV earlier this year.
The world of autonomous vehicles isn’t just restricted to flashy Teslas or high-tech freight trucks. German engineering giant Siemens is working on a driverless tram, it says, can test and ultimately help solve the challenges faced by autonomous vehicles in an urban environment. The tram, which features lidar, radar and camera sensors act as “digital eyes” in the city, will be presented at a formal event later this month. “By making trains and infrastructure intelligent, we can guarantee availability and enhance safety in local and long-distance travel,” said Siemens Mobility CEO Sabrina Soussan. As of now, the tram is solely being used for research purposes, with an eye toward applying its findings to future urban transport projects.
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