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January 18, 2019
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Samsung

Taking a stroll with Samsung’s robotic exoskeleton

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Samsung’s look but don’t touch policy left many wondering precisely how committed the company is to its new robots. On the other hand, the company was more than happy to let me take the GEMS (Gait Enhancing and Motivation System) spin.

The line includes a trio of wearable exoskeletons, the A (ankle), H (hip) and K (knee). Each serve a different set of needs and muscles, but ultimately provide the same functions: walking assistant and resistance for helping wearers improve strength and balance.

Samsung’s far from the first to tackle the market, of course. There are a number of companies with exoskeleton solutions aimed at walking support/rehabilitation and/or field assistance for physically demanding jobs. Rewalk, Ekso and SuitX have all introduced compelling solutions, and a number of automotive companies have also invested in the space.

At this stage, it’s hard to say precisely what Samsung can offer that others can’t, though certainly the company’s got plenty of money, know how and super smart employees. As with the robots, if it truly commits and invests, if could produce some really remarkable work in this space.

Having taken the hip system for a bit of a spin Samsung’s booth, I can at least say that the assistive and resistance modes do work. A rep described the resistance as feeling something akin to walking under water, and I’m hard pressed to come up with a better analogy. The assistive mode is a bit hard to pick up on at first, but is much more noticeable when walking up stairs after trying out the other mode.

Like the robots, it’s hard to know how these products will ultimately fit into the broader portfolio of a company best know for smartphones, TVs and chips. Hopefully we won’t have to wait until the next CES to find out.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Is Samsung getting serious about robotics?

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A funny thing happened at Samsung’s CES press conference. After the PC news, 8K TVs and Bixby-sporting washing machines, the company announced “one more thing,” handing over a few brief moments to announce a robotics division, three new consumer and retail robots and a wearable exoskeleton.

It was a pretty massive reveal in an extremely short space, and, quite frankly, raised far more questions than it answered. Within the broader context of a press conference, it’s often difficult to determine where the hype ends and the serious commitment to a new category begins.

This goes double for a company like Samsung, which has been taking extra care in recent months to demonstrate its commitment to the future, as the mobile industry undergoes its first major slowdown since the birth of the smartphone. It follows a similar play by LG, which has offered a glimpse into its own robotics plans for back to back years, including allowing a ‘bot to copilot this year’s keynote.

We all walked away from the press conference unsure of what to make of it all, with little more to show for things than a brief onstage demo. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to spend some quality time with the new robots behind the scenes the following day. There were some caveats, however.

First, the company insisted we watch a kind of in-person orientation, wherein a trio of miced up spokespeople walked us through the new robots. There’s Bot Care, a healthcare robot designed to assist with elder care, which features medication reminders, health briefings and the ability to check vitals with a finger scan. There are also yoga lessons and an emergency system that will dial 911 if a user falls.

There’s also Bot Air, an adorable little trash can-style robot that zooms around monitoring air quality and cleaning it accordingly. Bot Retail rounds out the bunch, with a touchscreen for ordering and trays in the rear for delivering food and other purchases.

The other major caveat was look, but don’t touch. You can get as close as you want, but you can’t interact with the robot beyond that.

The demos were impressive. The robots’ motions are extremely lifelike, with subtle touches that imbue on each a sense of personality rarely seen outside of movie robots like Wall-E. The response time was quick and they showed a wide range of genuinely useful tasks. If the robots are capable of performing as well in person as they do in these brief, choreographed demos, Samsung may have truly cracked the code of personal care and retail robotics.

That, of course, is a big if. Samsung wouldn’t answer the question of how much these demos are being orchestrated behind the scenes, but given how closely the company kept to the script, one suspects we’re largely looking at approximations of how such a human/robot interaction could ultimately play out somewhere down the road. And a Samsung spokesperson I spoke to admitted that everything is very early stages.

Really, it looks to be more akin to a proof of concept. Like, hey, we’re Samsung. We have a lot of money, incredibly smart people and know how to build components better than just about anyone. This is what it would look like if we went all-in on robotics. The company also wouldn’t answer questions regarding how seriously they’re ultimately taking robotics as a category.

You can’t expect to succeed in building incredibly complex AI/robotics/healthcare systems by simply dipping your toe in the water. I would love to see Samsung all-in on this. These sorts of things have the potential to profoundly impact the way we interact with technology, and Samsung is one of a few companies in a prime position to successfully explore this category. But doing so is going to require a true commitment of time, money and human resources.

CES 2019 coverage - TechCrunch

News Source = techcrunch.com

Samsung will unveil the Galaxy S10 February 20 in San Francisco

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CES has never been much of a mobile show for Samsung — not with Mobile World Congress a little over a month away. But the company did use its big platform this week to announce the announcement of its next flagship smartphone.

Turns out Samsung’s not unveiling the Galaxy S10 in Barcelona, either. In fact, the handset will actually make its debut a week before Barcelona’s big mobile show at a standalone Unpacked event in San Francisco. So thanks, Samsung, for those extra frequent flier miles.

We’ve already caught a few glimpses of the handset via a number of leaks, as has become a bit of a tradition for the company. But this gives us another month and a half or so to see the rest of what the premium handset has to offer.

Most notably so far is the company’s decision to forgo the notch, in favor of the camera cutout design Huawei’s helped pioneer. Also reportedly on tap for the handset is the ability to wirelessly charge compatible devices on contact. 

As the invite notes, this is the 10th anniversary of the Galaxy line. Between that and the company’s insistence on holding a standalone event this time out, it seems likely that we’ll be seeing more than just the S10. Perhaps we’ll get more insight into the forthcoming foldable handset and some more news on the 5G front.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Samsung is launching a bunch of new robots and a wearable exoskeleton

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Okay, this is legitimately a fun surprise, In addition to all of the standard TV and appliance talk, Samsung used today’s CES press conference  to announce a number of different robots — an entirely new field for the consumer electronics company. The company offered a sneak preview of the Samsung Bot Care on stage at the event.

The rolling home robot is a health care assistant designed for elderly users and other people in need of home assistants. The ‘bot can offer health briefings, give out medication and check a user’s vitals.

There’s also the Samsung Bot Air, which is an in-home air quality monitor and the Samsung Bot Retail, which brings that technology into a brick and mortar setting. In addition to all of these, we got the briefest sneak preview of Samsung Gems, a mobility assisting exoskeleton that appears to be targeted athletes.

Samsung really blew through all of that as a kind of “one more thing” at the end of an event in which it spent a majority talking about Bixby on washing machines and the like. Between that and the general lack of information around availability, I suspect we won’t be seeing any of these products in stores any time soon. Hardware is hard and robots are harder. 

Still, a fun little glimpse at what might be around the corner from the company.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Samsung releases a Chromebook-like Windows 10 Home laptop

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Samsung is announcing two new laptops at CES. The company is launching a pro-level laptop called the Notebook 9 Pro and a laptop for student called the Notebook Flash.

The Notebook Flash is an entry-level laptop with a textured design. It looks like fabric but it’s made out of plastic. The screen doesn’t look great to be honest — it has a narrow viewing angle.

And specs aren’t that great. 64GB of storage, 4GB of RAM and entry-level Intel CPUs. The good news is that it has a bunch of ports — two USB-C ports, two big USB ports, an HDMI port, etc.

But it’s a laptop for schools and students who just want something basic. The Intel Celeron N4000 version is going to ship for $350 on January 15.

It’s slightly more expensive than Windows 10 S laptops, but you get a full version of Windows for that price.

The 13-inch Notebook 9 Pro features a slimmer bezel and an updated backlit keyboard. There’s a fingerprint reader on the side of the device. You can convert it into a tablet by pushing the screen all the way. And the laptop comes with an Active Pen.

The default configuration comes with 256GB of flash storage, an integrated Intel GPU and 8GB of RAM. There are two Thunderbolt 3 ports, one USB-C port and a microSD slot.

Samsung is swapping the rounded edges for a sharper metal design. It looks more like a MacBook Pro now, but with a touch screen. Pricing hasn’t been disclosed yet.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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