Personal Technology – East Bay Times

Personal Technology – East Bay Times

Personal Technology – East Bay TimesPersonal Technology – East Bay TimesStartup’s personal robot designed to touch your emotionsWolverton: Cars take place with PCs and smartphones as threat to privacyTrump’s policies could affect Silicon Valley service workers and those who depend on them

http://www.eastbaytimes.com http://www.eastbaytimes.com http://www.eastbaytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/32×32-ebt.png?w=32 http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/02/03/startups-personal-robot-designed-to-touch-your-emotions/ https://www.eastbaytimes.com?p=4567234&preview_id=4567234 <div><img src=”http://www.eastbaytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/sjm-kurirobot-02xx-02-e1486142206284.jpg?w=1024&amp;h=707″ class=”ff-og-image-inserted”/></div><p>var _ndnq = _ndnq || []; _ndnq.push([’embed’]);</p> <p>If you’ve been dreaming for years about having your own R2-D2 or BB-8, get ready.</p> <p>Just don’t expect your new robot companion to do too much, because you might be disappointed.</p> <p>A new generation of personal robots and devices is in the works and several are slated to head to homes beginning later this year. Among the more notable is <a href=”https://www.heykuri.com/”>Kuri</a>, a robot developed by Redwood City startup Mayfield Robotics.</p> <p>Due out in December, Kuri, which looks a bit like <a href=”http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/EVE”>Eve</a> from the Pixar movie “Wall-E” but speaks in the beeps and boops of R2-D2,  is designed to act like a cross between a super-smart pet and a personal valet. It will keep an eye on your house, follow you around<strong>,</strong> play music on command, and serve as a mobile alarm clock, messenger or documentarian.</p> <p>Kuri “allows you to live that robot dream,” said Mike Beebe, Mayfield’s CEO. “Kuri is a real live robot that you can have in your house.”</p> <p>But it’s one with distinct limitations. Because it can’t speak real languages, it won’t replace personal assistants like Siri or Amazon’s Echo. Because it doesn’t have legs, it’ll be stuck on one floor of your house, unless you physically pick it up and take it somewhere else. And because it doesn’t have arms, it definitely won’t do chores around the house — no folding the laundry or loading the dishwasher.</p> <p>So you can think of Kuri, which you can pre-order today and will cost about $700, as something like an R2-D2 — without all of the loveable “Star Wars” droid’s cool hidden accessories and features.</p> <p>“There’s a trillion things you can do,” said Beebe. “The art is deciding what you’re not going to do.”</p> <p>Mass-marketed consumer robots have been around for at least 20 years. But they’ve mainly been devices that were limited in function, like Sony’s <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIBO”>Aibo</a> robotic dog or iRobot’s <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roomba”>Roomba</a> vacuum, or targeted at particularly markets, like <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lego_Mindstorms”>Lego Mindstorms</a> kits, which were designed as educational tools.</p> <p>But advances in areas like sensors, artificial intelligence and high-speed networks and the development of standardized robotic operating systems are starting to make multipurpose home robots a reality. French startup Blue Frog Robotics has a personal robot named <a href=”http://www.bluefrogrobotics.com/en/buddy/”>Buddy</a> that’s in the works and was originally due out late last year.</p> <p>Boston startup <a href=”https://www.jibo.com/”>Jibo</a> has an eponymously named robot due out later this year that looks like a Google Home device but has a face-like screen that it can turn and tilt in response to people talking to it. And Piaggio, the same Italian firm that makes Vespa scooters, has designed the Gita, which looks like a giant wheel but is designed to serve as a kind of robotic sherpa, following its owners around while carrying their groceries or transporting up to 40 pounds of sundry items home all on its own.</p> <hr/><p>Reading this on your phone or tablet? Stay up to date on Bay Area and Silicon Valley news with our new, free mobile app. Get it from the <a href=”http://bayareane.ws/mercappleapp” target=”_blank”>Apple app store</a> or the <a href=”http://bit.ly/mercgoogleapp” target=”_blank”>Google Play store</a>.</p> <hr/><p>Amid all this hubbub, some analysts and experts expect big growth for the industry in coming years. ABI Research, for example, projects that number of personal robots shipped worldwide will grow from 100,000 this year to 6.9 million in 2025. It projects the market for those robots will swell from $40 million to $2.5 billion over the same time period.</p> <p>“There’s a lot of competition in this market that’s coming,” said Philip Solis, a research director at ABI.</p> <p>Kuri, which is 20 inches tall, is designed to be smart. It has built-in cameras, microphones and speakers. It has a navigation system that will help it learn the layout of your house, and a facial recognition system that will let it identify individual members of your household. It will be able to navigate around obstacles.</p> <p>It won’t be able to do any manual task, but it can do other things. You’ll be able to ask it to wake your son up at a particular time or to remember to play “Happy Birthday” for your wife when she turns a year older. You can also have it “read” a story to your kids — by playing an audiobook or replaying a recording of your voice — or have it — again using your voice — tell the dog to get off the couch. And using an app on your smartphone, you’ll be able to drive it when you are away and check to make sure everything’s OK at home.</p> <p>But Mayfield, which is fully funded by German industrial conglomerate Bosch but operates independently, is hoping to attract people to Kuri by tapping into their emotions more than by promising it will do practical tasks. Kuri is intentionally designed to be personable and almost lifelike. You can wake it up when it goes to sleep by stroking its head. It has large “eyes” with shutters that blink and close. It looks at you when you talk to it and can turn its body and face if it wants to point you somewhere. And it will follow you around and will know your routine well enough that if you typically listen to NPR in the morning, it will tune it in unbidden.</p> <p>Giving Kuri a personality and making it personable came out of discussions with users of Mayfield’s early prototypes, said Sarah Osentoski, Mayfield’s chief operating officer. They wanted to know not just what it could do when they were away, but how they could interact with it while they were home.</p> <p>They wanted “something they could emotionally relate to,” Osentoski said.</p> <p>Kuri grew out of work that Osentoski and others did in conjunction with Willow Garage, the now-defunct robotics lab that tried to jump-start the robotics industry. Kuri runs on ROS, an operating system developed by Willow Garage, and one of the early Kuri prototypes was based on the TurtleBot, a robot design created by the lab.</p> <p>But while Willow Garage was trying to develop complicated robots with arms that could potentially load your dishwasher, Kuri is decidedly less sophisticated. That’s intentional, Mayfield representatives say. They wanted to create a robot that would be less expensive and more robust, Osentoski said.</p> <p>Narrowing the number of things Kuri can do is also a way for the company to better offer consumers a good experience, said Andra Keay, managing director of Silicon Valley Robotics, a trade group of which Mayfield is a member.</p> <p>“A robot is a complex system, and we have very high expectations,” Keay said. “Robots for the home or entertainment are only going to succeed when they’re doing something well, not everything poorly.”</p> <p>But some analysts are skeptical that Kuri will do enough to actually appeal to a wide audience or to be more than a novelty. The fact that it won’t answer questions like Amazon’s Echo seems like “a missed opportunity,” Solis said.</p> <p>Meanwhile, many of the things it can do — like setting reminders or serving as a security camera —  can already be done with devices like Echo, webcams like Nest Cam or even just a plain old smartphone, noted J.P. Gownder, an analyst who studies the robotics industry for research firm Forrester. And most consumers either have those devices already or those gadgets cost a lot less than Kuri.</p> <p>“I don’t see anyone saying they must have this in their home,” said Gownder. “It’s such a novelty for the 1 percent.”</p> <hr/><p><strong>Meet Kuri<br/>What is it?</strong> A personal robot.<br/><strong>What can it do?</strong> It can serve as a mobile alarm clock, rolling into a particular room at a specified time in the morning. It can remember to wish your daughter happy birthday on her big day. It can keep an eye on the house when you’re away. And it can follow you around, playing your favorite music or news channel.<br/><strong>How big is it?</strong> It’s 20 inches tall and 12 inches wide and weighs 14 pounds.<br/><strong>Who makes it?</strong> It was designed by Mayfield Robotics, a spin-off of industrial giant Bosch that is based in Redwood City.<br/><strong>How much does it cost?</strong> $700.<br/><strong>When will it be available?</strong> In December. You can pre-order it now online at <a href=”http://www.heykuri.com”>www.heykuri.com</a>.</p> <hr/> <p><strong><a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org”>Let’s block ads!</a></strong> <a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org/acceptable.html”>(Why?)</a></p> Fri, 03 Feb 2017 16:32:16 +0000 Troy Wolverton article Startup’s personal robot designed to touch your emotions https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/02/03/startups-personal-robot-designed-to-touch-your-emotions/ A new generation of personal robots and devices is in the works and several are slated to head to homes beginning later this year; among the more notable is Kuri, a robot developed by Redwood City … http://www.eastbaytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/sjm-kurirobot-02xx-02-e1486142206284.jpg?w=1024&h=707 @eastbaytimes http://www.eastbaytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/sjm-kurirobot-02xx-02-e1486142206284.jpg?w=640 summary_large_image en-US text/html http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/02/03/startups-personal-robot-designed-to-touch-your-emotions/ Business Latest Headlines Technology Personal Technology http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/02/03/wolverton-cars-take-place-with-pcs-and-smartphones-as-threat-to-privacy/ https://www.eastbaytimes.com?p=4567118&preview_id=4567118 <div><img src=”http://www.eastbaytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/20160822__cct-privacy-0822-21.jpg?w=645&amp;h=395″ class=”ff-og-image-inserted”/></div><p>You probably know that you should delete all the data off your phone before you give it away and wipe the hard drive on your computer before you sell it.</p> <p>But have you considered all the data stored on your car, and what you should do with it when you get rid of the vehicle? Maybe not.</p> <p>Tony Aquila, CEO of Solera Holdings, a company that collects and analyzes data from cars, thinks you ought to be focusing on the privacy threat your car represents.</p> <p>“You can learn more about you from your car than you can from your house,” Aquila said.</p> <p>As Aquila and others note, cars have become mobile computers. Not only do they have numerous processors within them, they also have sophisticated arrays of sensors and many now can be connected to data networks or the internet. Cars these days are constantly collecting data and in many cases are transmitting it to car manufacturers and others.</p> <p>“There’s a tremendous wealth of data there about how you drive and where you go and when you go there,” said John Simpson, director of the privacy project at Consumer Watchdog, an advocacy group. “It is potentially tremendously revealing.”</p> <p>Cars have been collecting data since at least the late 1970s, when environmental regulations required manufacturers to keep track of and limit vehicle emissions. The amount of data cars generate and store has grown exponentially since then.</p> <p>Many of the major components in cars, like brakes, engines and even tires, now have sensors on them that collect data about how they’re being used. Many cars now have navigation systems that track where drivers go. Many have sophisticated infotainment systems that store users’ address books and include apps that may collect and store other personal information.</p> <p>And cars are starting to collect even more data than that. Many now have cameras and radar systems that can detect other vehicles. Some now have cameras inside the cockpit that attempt to determine whether drivers are too drowsy to drive. The number of sensors and data collected will only increase with self-driving vehicles.</p> <p>Privacy advocates worry not only about what could be done with all the data that cars are collecting, but also that much of it is being gathered without users’ explicit permission.</p> <p>“Most people have no clue that the information is being collected,” said Dorothy Glancy, a law professor at Santa Clara University who has focused on the issue of privacy in cars.</p> <p>Car manufacturers, their partners and even policymakers have largely focused on the positive benefits of this data collection. Most cars made in the last decade have so-called “<a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Event_data_recorder”>black boxes</a>” that save pertinent information taken from sensors immediately before accidents that can be used to help determine their cause. And nearly all vehicles made since the mid-1990s also have <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On-board_diagnostics#OBD-II”>on-board diagnostic</a> (OBD) ports that auto service providers use to diagnose problems.</p> <p>Meanwhile, manufacturers have been pitching connectivity in cars as a way to provide popular apps and services and as an important service and safety tool. Manufacturers can use the information to alert owners when they’re due for a service checkup or when they ought to replace their tires or brakes.</p> <p>But the information gleaned from cars could be used in other ways that many people might find troubling. It could be used in states other than California to charge  people different interest rates based on how they drive. It could be used to determine whether someone was having an affair.</p> <p>Similar data could also be used to revoke drivers licenses or potentially by employers in ways that could affect drivers’ employment, if you speed or regularly drive under the influence. And it could be combined with other data to market all kinds of services to consumers. And that’s not to mention that the connections used to transmit data could also be used by hackers to seize control of a car.</p> <p>While a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington, Miro Enev <a href=”http://miro.enev.us/papers/driver_ID.pdf”>showed</a> that researchers could identify individual drivers with only five to 10 minutes worth of data from the brake sensor in a car. A data scientist who now works for Nvidia, Enev worries that so-called deep learning techniques, where artificial intelligence is applied to large databases to find interesting patterns, will be used to analyze all the data being collected from cars. What manufacturers and their third-party partners discover may not be used for the benefit of car owners.</p> <p>“It becomes a very slippery slope as far as what is possible,” Enev said. “It’s basically a big can of worms.”</p> <p>Unfortunately, consumers right now don’t have a lot of tools they can use to monitor what and how much data is being collected on them. They also lack easy ways to delete that data either from the vehicles themselves or from manufacturers or others who have collected it from their cars.</p> <p>Senator Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, raised some of these concerns two years ago when he <a href=”https://www.markey.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2015-02-06_MarkeyReport-Tracking_Hacking_CarSecurity%202.pdf”>issued a report</a> about the amount of data cars and automakers were already collecting. His investigation led automakers to voluntarily commit to limit some of the data collection and to be more transparent about it. But they retained the right to collect data for undefined “legitimate” business purposes.</p> <p>Markey subsequently proposed <a href=”https://www.markey.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/SPY%20Car%20legislation.pdf”>a bill</a> that would go further, limiting data automakers could collect without explicit permission, but it died at the end of the last Congress. And nothing has been done since then at the federal level to limit data collection.</p> <p>Solera is working on software that would allow drivers to wipe the data off their car when they sell or dispose of it. Consumers can attempt to limit some of the data collection by only using their navigation systems when they really need to or by avoiding installing apps, privacy experts say. And Aquila recommends that consumers be sure to delete what data they can when they get rid of their car, things like their address books and navigation history.</p> <p>But consumers should be aware that at least right now, there’s no way to completely wipe their digital fingerprints off their cars.</p> <p>“If you’re looking for a magic bullet, I’m not sure there is one,” said Joseph Jerome, a policy counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology.</p> <p><strong><a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org”>Let’s block ads!</a></strong> <a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org/acceptable.html”>(Why?)</a></p> Fri, 03 Feb 2017 15:30:07 +0000 Troy Wolverton article Wolverton: Cars take place with PCs and smartphones as threat to privacy https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/02/03/wolverton-cars-take-place-with-pcs-and-smartphones-as-threat-to-privacy/ Have you thought about all the data stored on your car, and what you should do with it when you get rid of the vehicle? You should, writes Tech Files columnist Troy Wolverton. http://www.eastbaytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/20160822__cct-privacy-0822-21.jpg?w=645&h=395 @eastbaytimes http://www.eastbaytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/20160822__cct-privacy-0822-21.jpg?w=640 summary_large_image en-US text/html http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/02/03/wolverton-cars-take-place-with-pcs-and-smartphones-as-threat-to-privacy/ Business Latest Headlines Technology Personal Technology Privacy Security Tech Files http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/02/02/trumps-policies-could-affect-silicon-valley-service-workers-and-those-who-depend-on-them/ https://www.eastbaytimes.com?p=4564795&preview_id=4564795 <div><img src=”http://www.eastbaytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/afp_kr53u.jpg?w=1024&amp;h=753″ class=”ff-og-image-inserted”/></div><p>There is little doubt that Silicon Valley’s workforce will be affected by two of President Donald Trump’s recent executive actions — the travel ban from seven mostly Muslim countries and the order about building a border wall. And when I say “workforce,” I’m not just talking about high-paid engineers and software developers, but also the people who sweep the floors, tend the grounds, serve the food, wash the dishes and staff the stores that so many in this area depend on.</p> <p>It’s no surprise that executives from Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Uber, Lyft and many other companies with headquarters or offices in or near Silicon Valley have spoken out. Many of these companies depend on immigrants from throughout the world – including some of these seven countries – to write the code and design the products that they create.</p> <p>Some of the founders are themselves immigrants or children of immigrants. Steve Jobs’ birth father came to the U.S. from Syria – the country whose refugees are now banned until further notice. Google co-founder Sergey Brin came to the U.S. from what was then the Soviet Union when he was 6 years old.  Speaking at a Google-employee rally against the travel ban, Brin referred to himself as “an immigrant and a refugee.” Google CEO Sundar Pichai immigrated to the U.S. from India, as did Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.</p> <p>The travel ban could definitely affect some of Silicon Valley’s high-paid engineers and executives, but I also worry about the impact of the ban and the proposed wall – along with increased immigration enforcement and potentially more restrictive laws – on thousands of lower-income immigrants that the area depends on for so many of its vital services.</p> <p><a href=”http://hattip.com”>HatTip.com</a>, which links employers with job seekers in the restaurant, retail and hospitality industry and other service businesses, has more than 10,000 open service jobs in the Bay Area, many in Silicon Valley, according to Hat Tip CEO and founder Chris Kermoian.</p> <p>What’s most interesting about Hat Tip’s open positions is that many of them remain unfilled for weeks at a time. Kermoian said that employers are “finding it very hard to hire. It’s very common in Silicon Valley for it to take four to six weeks to hire a new server for a restaurant.” Based on this, it’s safe to assume that immigrants are not taking a significant number of these jobs away from U.S. workers. There are also plenty of jobs at big tech companies like Google, Facebook and Yahoo that collectively employ thousands of cooks, dishwashers, janitors, groundskeepers and other “blue-collar” workers.</p> <p>Also not listed in available Silicon Valley jobs are all the jobs in the San Joaquin Valley, wine country and other parts of California where our food is grown. I’d hate to think of what a head of lettuce or a bottle of wine would cost if it weren’t for the immigrants who pick our crops and package our food. In 2010, the United Farm Workers ran a “take our jobs” campaign that made it very easy for any American to apply for agricultural jobs.</p> <p>“Only a few dozen have really followed through with the process,” UFW President Arturo Rodriguez told CNN.</p> <p>I realize that employers are supposed to check the immigration status of applicants and only hire people who are in the country legally, but – rightly or wrongly – I also know that there are plenty of “undocumented” workers employed in Silicon Valley and other parts of the country. Still, there are legal ways to hire foreign nationals or “aliens” as they are officially called on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website, including those who have been “granted asylum or refugee status.”</p> <p>So, as it turns out, the president’s agenda could have a detrimental effect across the board when it comes to people who live and work in Silicon Valley. These policies could keep the next Steve Jobs or Sergey Brin from coming to the area to start one of the world’s great companies or any of thousands of software developers or engineers from contributing to the technology breakthroughs that could improve or even extend the lives of millions.</p> <p>But as we celebrate the achievements of those entrepreneurs and highly-skilled tech workers, let’s not forget the contributions of people with different types of skills who are taking the jobs that all of us depend on to maintain our lifestyle, keep our homes and businesses in good repair, feed our families and maintain the social and cultural diversity that has long helped keep America great.</p> <p><strong><a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org”>Let’s block ads!</a></strong> <a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org/acceptable.html”>(Why?)</a></p> Thu, 02 Feb 2017 14:30:33 +0000 Larry Magid article Trump’s policies could affect Silicon Valley service workers and those who depend on them https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/02/02/trumps-policies-could-affect-silicon-valley-service-workers-and-those-who-depend-on-them/ Columnist Larry Magid worries worry about the impact of the immigrant ban and the proposed wall — along with increased immigration enforcement and potentially more restrictive laws — on… http://www.eastbaytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/afp_kr53u.jpg?w=1024&h=753 @eastbaytimes http://www.eastbaytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/afp_kr53u.jpg?w=640 summary_large_image en-US text/html http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/02/02/trumps-policies-could-affect-silicon-valley-service-workers-and-those-who-depend-on-them/ Business California News Latest Headlines Nation & World News Politics Uncategorized Donald Trump Immigration jobs Personal Technology

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