Tag Archives: robotics

Samsung’s NEON digital avatars shouted as artificial humans

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The fact that Samsung will appear with its new project at CES 2020 has been loud for a long time. Everyone was wondering what artificial humans could be. And one thing is certain. After all the media noise around the project, everyone expected something completely different. Especially after prematurely disclosed material, which can be watched below.

 

What exactly is this project about?

NEON is the idea of Samsung researcher Pranav Mistry. The project emerged out of STAR Labs – Samsung Technology and Advanced Research Labs – and is funded by Samsung, but it’s not actually a Samsung company.

The NEON project is realistic human avatars that are computationally generated and can interact with people in real-time. At this point, each NEON is created from footage of an actual person that is fed into a machine-learning model. A Neon is meant to mimic real human appearance and emotions with its own personality and aptitude to behave like humans. Avatars can also remember and learn.

According to Pranav Mistry, NEON isn’t meant to replace Samsung’s digital assistant Bixby. What is more, it won’t be implemented in Samsung products and NEON operates independently.

 

Examples of the NEON’s application

Each NEON avatar can be customized for different tasks and is able to respond to queries with the latency of less than a few milliseconds. They’re not intended to be just visual skins for AI assistants but put to more varying uses instead. If we are to believe STAR Labs CEO Pranav Mistry, in the near future everyone will be able to license or subscribe to a NEON. The roles can be different: a service representative, a financial advisor, a healthcare provider, or a concierge. The founder also assures that NEONs will work as TV anchors, spokespeople, or movie actors. They can simply be companions and friends if people only would want it.

The first wave of Neons are modeled after real people.
Source: https://www.neon.life/

 

NEONs will work as TV anchors, spokespeople, or movie actors.
Source: https://www.neon.life/

 

What technology is behind it?

There are two main technologies on which NEON is based. The first is Core R3, which stands for reality, real-time and responsiveness. Core R3 is a kind of the graphics engine that powers avatars natural movements, expressions and speech. The second technology is Spectra, which is responsible for implementing artificial intelligence solutions. By this, the creator means intelligence, learning, emotions, and memory. Spectra is not ready for launch yet, but the company says it will present the technology later this year. At the moment it is still being developed.

Neon’s Core R3 graphics engine demonstrated at CES 2020.
Source: https://www.cnet.com/news/samsung-neon-artificial-humans-are-confusing-everyone-we-set-record-straight/

 

What about the uncanny valley?

When NEON avatars can become real comrades in everyday life, one should ask oneself whether the fact that they are so realistic is not a problem. This is specifically about the phenomenon of the uncanny valley, the scientific hypothesis telling that a robot that looks or functions like a human being causes the observers to feel unpleasant or even disgusting. When some people are wondering how STAR Labs has worked out every detail, others feel at least uncomfortable.

 

Why is everyone disappointed?

NEON is like a new kind of life, There are millions of species on our planet and we hope to add one more – this is what we heard from STAR Labs CEO Pranav Mistry before the CES 2020 presentation. It is no wonder that nobody got into awe when it turned out that NEON is just a highly detailed digital avatar. In addition, the demo presented at the show was fully controlled by people from STAR Labs. All the media hype made everyone wait impatiently for the show to finally find out that NEON still has a lot of work to do on its business.

It remains to not believe the haters because NEON avatars look really good and the potential of the project is certainly there. Thus, the final version of the STAR Labs venture has not come and we shouldn’t believe all the media reports. It will soon be clear whether a company can combine two ambitious technologies – the avatars and the AI – together.

 

Do you see a practical application of Samsung’s NEON in the near future? Would you feel comfortable if your teacher wasn’t a real person but Samsung’s NEON?

 

References:

[1] https://www.theverge.com/2020/1/7/21051390/samsung-artificial-human-neon-digital-avatar-project-star-labs

[2] https://www.theverge.com/2020/1/8/21056424/neon-ceo-artificial-humans-samsung-ai-ces-2020

[3] https://www.engadget.com/2020/01/05/samsung-neon-artificial-human-teaser/

[4] https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/06/samsung-neon-artificial-human-announced-at-ces-2020.html

[5] https://www.cnet.com/news/samsung-neon-project-finally-unveiled-humanoid-ai-chatbot-artificial-humans/

[6] https://www.cnet.com/news/samsung-neon-heres-when-well-get-details-on-the-mysterious-ai/

[7] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/meet-neon-samsungs-new-ai-powered-robot-which-can-converse-sympathise/articleshow/73135240.cms

[8] https://www.livemint.com/companies/people/we-ll-live-in-a-world-where-machines-become-humane-pranav-mistry-11577124133419.html

[9] https://mashable.com/article/samsung-star-labs-neon-ces/?europe=true

[10] https://www.wired.co.uk/article/samsung-neon-digital-avatars

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Scaled Robotics – an innovator in the construction industry

Reading Time: 3 minutes

It has been exactly a month since we knew the winner of the latest edition of TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin 2019. Congratulations to the newest Startup Battlefield winner, Scaled Robotics, who designed a robot that can produce 3D progress maps of construction sites in minutes.

Scaled Robotics wins the Startup Battlefield
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2019/12/12/scaled-robotics-wins-startup-battlefield-at-disrupt-berlin-2019/

 

How does Scaled Robotics work?

The startup has created a robot that trundles autonomously around construction sites, using a 360-degree camera and custom lidar system to systematically document its surroundings. All this information goes into a software backend where the supervisors can check things like which pieces are in place on which floor, whether they have been placed within the required tolerances, or if there are safety issues like too much detritus on the ground in work areas. The data is assembled automatically but the robot can be either autonomous or manually controlled.

 

Why construction companies need Scaled Robotics?

Construction is one of the world’s largest but also most inefficient and wasteful industries. There are estimates that nearly 20% of every construction project is rework. The problem of waste and rework is so widespread that the industry on average operates on a 1-2% margin. The root of this problem stems from the fact that the construction industry is still relying on tools and processes developed over 100 years ago to tackle the problems of today. The robot can make its rounds faster than a couple of humans with measuring tapes and clipboards. Someone equipped with a stationary laser ranging device that they carry from room to room just works too slowly. Using outdated data is one of the main problems for developers. This is confirmed by the case that was carried out in one of the companies. One of the first times startup took data on a site, the client was completely convinced everything they’d done was perfect. Scaled Robotics put the data in front of them and they found out there was a structural wall just missing, and it had been missing for 4 weeks. Thanks to Scaled Robotics’ technology such situations do not take place.

Simultaneous location and ranging (SLAM) tech
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2019/12/11/scaled-robotics-keeps-an-autonomous-eye-on-busy-construction-sites/

 

Technologies that support people’s work

There is no doubt that the entire competitive advantage of Scaled Robotics lies in innovative technology. An advantage of simultaneous location and ranging (SLAM) tech is that it measures from multiple points of view over time, building a highly accurate and rich model of the environment. Automated Construction Verification system with scans from traditional laser scanners, can verify the quality of the build providing high precision information to localize mistakes and prevent costly errors. What is more, Automated Progress Monitoring helps track the progress of the construction project and provides actionable information for site managers to prevent costly errors. By comparing this to a source CAD model of the building, it can paint a very precise picture of the progress being made. Scaled Robotics also built a special computer vision model that’s suited to the task of sorting obstructions from the constructions and identifying everything in between.

What Scaled Robotics did is that they rethought the entire construction process. Their mission is to modernize construction with Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, thereby creating a manufacturing process that is lean, efficient and cost-effective.

Does Scaled Robotics have a chance to revolutionize the construction industry on a global scale?

 

References:

[1] https://www.scaledrobotics.com/

[2] https://techcrunch.com/2019/12/11/scaled-robotics-keeps-an-autonomous-eye-on-busy-construction-sites/

[3] https://techcrunch.com/2019/08/02/digitizing-construction-sites-with-scaled-robotics/

[4] https://techcrunch.com/2019/12/12/scaled-robotics-wins-startup-battlefield-at-disrupt-berlin-2019/

[5] https://pitchbook.com/profiles/company/279687-25

[6] https://angel.co/company/scaled-robotics

[7] https://www.theburnin.com/startups/scaled-robotics-wins-techcrunch-disrupt-battlefield-3d-construction-site-progress-maps-2019-12/

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