IoT weekly round-up: Thursday 2nd November 2017

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The profound meets the profane in this week’s IoT round-up, where the news is, frankly, a tad eclectic. First, we saw a humanoid robot granted citizenship. Then Audible announced a new feature that lets you skip to the good bits in steamy romance novels. And finally, there’s a collaborative, storytelling venture afoot, exploring Mary Shelley’s novel ‘Frankenstein’ with the help of AI. Read on for the latest from the connected world.

Saudi Arabia grants citizenship to robot

To start us off, Saudi Arabia has granted a robot the right to citizenship. That makes it the first country in the world to extend this privilege to non-humans. The revelation was made at the Future Investment Initiative summit in Riyadh, where the robot, known as Sophia, appeared on stage. “I am very honoured and proud for this unique distinction,” Sophia announced. Questions remain as to the implications of AI-powered populations for international law. And some naysayers are denouncing the whole thing as a publicity stunt.

Razer is the new smart phone on the block

Razer, best known for their gaming gear and laptops, have built a smart phone. The Android-powered Razer phone was announced at a London event this week. Unsurprisingly, it’s built with gaming in mind, and has some impressive specs. These include: 64GB internal storage and dual 12-megapixel rear cameras with two options for optical zoom, for example. A 120hz display means speedy refreshing and pleasingly smooth animation in games. In creating a 120hz phone display, Razer looks to be the first to market. November 17th is the shipping date. Cost: $699.

Ceres Imaging offers machine learning insights to farmers

Next up, Ceres Imaging announced this week that it has raised $2.5 million, to help give farmers machine learning-powered insights into their crops. This latest windfall follows a $5 million Series A round closed in May. The Ceres Imaging solution involves a low-flying plane. The plane photographs the farms, using spectral cameras and proprietary sensors. It then delivers farmers information about their plants’ nutrient content, and helps them determine the causes behind failing crops. Ceres Imaging is marketing its product to farms in Australia, California, Hawaii and the Midwest.

Audible’s “Take Me To The Good Part” audio book feature lets you skip straight to the sex scenes

Fans of the erotic novel will celebrate today as Audible launches a feature that takes you right to the dirt. The “Take Me To The Good Part” feature will breeze past the boring bits and on to the steamy sections. They’re forever doing away with the pretence that you’re really in it for the story. Farewell flimsy plot devices, pantomime-esque characters and formulaic dénouements. All this machine learning means we have no need of you now. Audible is debuting the feature in 100 of its ‘romance’ titles, with plans to introduce the technology to a broader selection in time.

Sony’s Aibo robot dog gets an AI reboot

Remember Aibo, Sony’s cute robot dog? Well, it’s getting a reboot. Sony announced a new version of the AI-powered bot, complete with curvier corners and communicative puppy dog eyes. Aibo’s embedded sensors and deep learning technology will enable it to respond to its environment and adapt its behaviour to external stimuli. It will even interact with its owners. That means it will understand praise and petting, and initiate contact without being prompted. Oh, and it can take a photo of you too, if you ask nicely.

Frankenstein AI explores the famous novel with the IoT

Lastly, here’s an interesting project: a collaborative experiment known as Frankenstein AI. The project uses Mary Shelley’s famous novel Frankenstein as a lens through which to examine the way IoT and artificial intelligence technologies affect our lives. It works in reverse, too. With it, we can gain a deeper understanding of Dr Frankenstein’s creation through our knowledge of AI. The two-year project will create a new ‘Frankenstein’s monster’, which will be a mix of storytelling, AI, machine learning, bio-engineering and IoT.

Keep up-to-date with the connected world

Bookmark the IoT weekly round-up series page to keep up with what’s going on in the wider world of IoT.

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