Google’s next big project is robots, from the man that brought you Android
Not one to let Amazon get all the robots-are-our-future attention, Google’s revealed that its already got plenty of projects underway, and they’re headed up by Andy Rubin. Yep, the man who made the company’s Android operating system arguably the biggest smartphone OS in the world. In the last six months, Google has managed to claim seven different technology companies en route to its very real robot plans, although its current target isn’t the same millions that fell in love with a cute green avatar. No, it’s more about manufacturing, increasing automation in factories using a high level of manual labor — and probably making a load of money on the way. Rubin admitted in an interview with the New York Times that “you have to think of time as a factor”. “We need enough runway and a 10-year vision.”
The Googler was once a robotics engineer for Carl Zeiss, of world-class camera lens fame and the loose analogy for what he’s aiming for with these new robot projects is a windshield wiper that knows when it’s raining and otherwise needs no human intervention to do its job. It’s a pretty simple way of looking at it, but it also lines up with what Google CEO Larry Page has said in the past about freeing up humans from repetitive tasks through technology. Page added on Google Plus(of course) that it was still “very early days” for the project but that he “can’t wait to see the progress.” And Rubin? “I have a history of making my hobbies into a career… This is the world’s greatest job.”
Google has also acquired London based artificial intelligence startup DeepMind Technologies. The latest move by Google reaffirms its ambitions in the artificial reality space. The acquisition was reportedly led by Google’s CEO Larry Page.
On the DeepMind website, the company says its mission is to combine “the best techniques from machine learning and systems neuroscience to build powerful general-purpose learning algorithms.”
A Google spokesman declined to comment on the price. DeepMind representatives could not be immediately reached for comment.
Sources in the artificial intelligence community also mention that DeepMind can compete with giants like Facebook or Google for talent and that it could be “the largest independent company” which focuses on artificial intelligence.
In December 2012, Google hired Ray Kurzweil as a director of engineering focused on machine learning and language processing. Kurzweil has said that he wants to build a search engine so advanced that it could act like a “cybernetic friend.”
Google previously revealed that it was working to create a new generation of robots, and now it seems to be taking a further step in this area as it is in the midst of acquiring artificial intelligence startup DeepMind for $400 million, Re/code reports.
Search giant Google is also expanding its empire of robots by acquiring Boston Dynamics – the company that makes BigDog, WildCat and Atlas.
The firm, based in Massachusetts, has made a name for itself by designing creepy robots for the Pentagon that can cope with difficult terrain and stay upright despite being kicked.
It’s the eighth robotics company Google has picked up in the last six months, but the company is yet to announce exactly what it’s planning to do with all those bots. They’re under the command of Andy Rubin, who founded Android but now runs Google’s robotics division.
Google’s unofficial corporate motto of “Don’t Be Evil” seems to clash somewhat with acquiring a company that builds military robots, but its executives said that while existing contracts would be honoured, no more would be pursued.
Google refused to disclose how much it had paid for the company, but Boston Dynamics’ founder Marc Raibert said: “I am excited by Andy and Google’s ability to think very, very big, with the resources to make it happen.”
Nest Labs may finally be ready for a big investment as now Google has backed it up with cash and no doubt resources. Google made this acquisition for a cool 3.2 billion dollars. Now with so much money at stake and resources available , you know Nest is going to bring something big.
In the US and most Western countries, overall home energy use is a big deal. A thermostat is used to control temperature, and can be used to adjust heating or cooling depending on the air temperature, thus potentially saving energy.Nest do this .Nest Labs, co-founded by iPod creator Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers, started off making thermostats.
The Nest Learning Thermostat acts like a modern front-end for this purpose; it automatically adjusts itself or can be manipulated using the touchscreen interface. It also connects to the Internet using Wi-Fi so it can automatically download updates.
The company launched a $129 smoke and carbon monoxide detector, Nest Protect last year which is naturally more than just that description. Most smoke detectors will beep to alert you of fumes or smoke, but Nest Protect will beep and directs home owners to the exact source of the smoke/flames. And most importantly its is energy efficient . The device requires just six AA batteries and can last years on them, even though each unit has to be replaced every seven years. What’s more, it syncs with the Nest Thermostat (if one is around) to let it change temperature more accurately. Just like the Thermostat, it looks nothing like a smoke detector and could be easily mistaken for a speaker.
Nest Protect is a smoke detector that looks like it’s been designed by Apple
An Important feature is that Both devices can now also be controlled using a smartphone app, which alerts home owners of any fire damage or smoke leak in the house even when they are away.
Nest claims that about 1 billion kWh of energy has been saved to date because of using the Learning Thermostat and over 50 million Nest Protects have been sold since their launch in October. That’s a remarkable figure whichever way you look at it and to think the products are not yet available outside the US and Canada. So Nest will now think of expanding global.
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