Japanese startup has created a hologram assistant to control all your devices

Established in 2014, Japanese startup vinclu Inc. is still quite young, but they’re certainly ambitious — the company just released a concept video for their hologram assistant, Gatebox, interacting with a young businessman.

Azuma Hikari, the character in the Gatebox, will talk to users, waking them up in the morning and greeting them when they come home at night. Gatebox is also designed to connect to Internet of Things (IoT) devices in your house, so you can control everything from you high-tech bath to your TV just by talking to Azuma. She can also connect to the Internet and let you know stuff like how the weather is.

The hologram device will also apparently have sensors so it can better communicate with you — and it looks like vinclu is setting up some server-side technology to handle artificial intelligence as well. Fortunately, even if Gatebox or Azuma become fully sentient and decide to murder you in your sleep, the worst they could do cause your bathtub to overflow.

Nevertheless, Gatebox probably won’t be something you buy to better control your IoT devices — Amazon’s Echo can already do that well enough, for example. The selling point for Gatebox looks to be the hologram display and the character that lives within it, which, we have to admit, could add a fun dynamic to what is basically a really nifty remote control. Of course, unlike a remote control, Azuma will actually have a personality of sorts.

You can’t buy Gatebox yet, but it looks like the company is planning to offer them via crowdfunding preorders later this year.

New magnetic “slate” lets you write on actual paper, digitize your drawings in real-time

RocketNews 24 (by Scott Wilson):

Digital drawing tablets, despite their best efforts, have always felt different from the real thing. For many artists, note-takers, or expert doodlers, nothing beats the feeling of putting actual pen to actual paper.

But now, thanks to iSketchnote, you can write on a real piece of paper using a real pen, while still digitizing it in real-time on a tablet or PC as you draw.

iSketchnote started as a Kickstarter project by the French group ISKN in September 2013, and it quickly exceeded its modest $35,000 goal by hitting $350,000. Now, a little over a year later, it’s finally being released to the public as an alternative digital-drawing tablet.

In fact it’s not even a tablet at all; it’s just a “slate” and a pen. You can put any kind of paper that you want on top of the slate, write away with the special pen, and watch your writing or drawing get turned into a digital version in real-time via Bluetooth or USB to your tablet or PC.

Here’s a video showing everything in action. Keep in mind that this is not a digital drawing tablet – it’s just a plain piece of paper being written on with iSketchnote’s ink pen.

Samsung’s TipTalk is a smartwatch band that lets you listen to voicemails simply by touching your ear

People are skeptical when it comes to wearables because so far, all a smartwatch can do is act as an intermediate between the user and their smartphone. That is, until Samsung unveiled a piece of technology called TipTalk.

What TipTalk does is quite incredible; it sends sounds through the user’s arm (from their wrist) and then when the user places their finger on their ear, they can hear voicemail messages through the unique reverberation.

Samsung have not commented on whether this technology will be implemented in future wearables, but in a market that is slowly becoming super-saturated, it’s good to know that the technology giant has a few incredibly innovative aces up its sleeve.

Japan unveils Laundroid, the world’s first laundry-folding robot

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RocketNews 24 (by Oona McGee):

If there’s a menial task that takes up a substantial amount of time, you can bet Japan is developing a robot for it. So far we’ve seen gems like the 24-fingered hair-washing robot, the floor-cleaning bot and the robot that feeds you tomatoes while you run.

Now, a new generation of self-automated robotic assistance is set to make life easier for families in the very near future, with an amazing new machine that folds your laundry.

This impressive new piece of technology, called the Laundroid, is a joint collaboration between Japan’s largest homebuilder, Daiwa HousePanasonic, and Seven Dreamers, a technical company that previously worked on the “Hayabusa” asteroid spacecraft and now wants to deliver “space quality” technology and products to people on earth.

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The sleek machine is designed to look like an ordinary cupboard. With Daiwa House involved in the project, it’s likely their package homes will include the Laundroid for homebuyers in the future.

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Attendees at the annual Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (CEATEC) trade show in Japan yesterday were treated to a demonstration of the Laundroid in action, when it folded a freshly dried T-shirt using image analysis and robotics built inside the machine.

By using image analysis, the machine is able to identify the type of clothing received, which then sets off the robotic processes required to fold the garment. Currently, the machine can fold T-shirts, collared shirts, skirts, shorts, trousers and towels. Socks remain the robot’s biggest challenge, although the makers aim to have this sorted by the time the machine is released.

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▼ The robotics remain a highly guarded secret, with the folding movements heavily pixelated during the on-stage presentation.

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With no need to sort the laundry before using the machine, it’s estimated that a full load of clothes will take approximately seven hours to fold, meaning the machine can be set before bedtime or in the morning before work.

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Pre-orders for the Laundroid will begin next year, followed by a release of beta models and then folding machines for commercial use. Following that, in 2019, the creators plan to release the final product, with plans to ultimately create a full wash, dry and fold system so users can reclaim some of the estimated 18,000 hours, or 750 days, that people spend doing laundry in their lifetime.

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While we’ll have to wait to find out how much the laundry-folding bot will be, we’re thrilled to know that this invention will be coming out on the market. Until then, it’s back to the laundry basket to fold those clothes!

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium: The first smartphone with a 4K display

The recently announced Sony Xperia Z5 Premium can boast of being the world’s first production smartphone with a 4K display, by way of a 5.5-inch screen and 3840 x 2160 pixel resolution, equating to an unparalleled 806 pixels per inch.

However, Sony also claims the Z5 has a two-day battery life, defying conventional wisdom that a higher-resolution screen consumes more power. To achieve this feat, Sony engineered the Z5 to only display photos and videos at the ultra-high 4K resolution, while all other content is displayed at 1080p Full HD for battery conservation purposes.

Otherwise, the Z5′s other selling points include complete waterproofing, 4K video recording with image stabilization, a 64-bit octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, and a 23MP rear camera. While pricing and availability is yet to be announced, you can find more details here.

Samsung unveils the Gear S2 smartwatch

After teasing its next smartwatch offering, Samsung has officially unveiled the new product. Named the Gear S2 Smartwatch, the piece is available in both a “Classic” and regular style. As opposed to the Apple Watch’s rectangular screen and Samsung’s other smartwatch offerings (such as the Gear 2 Neo, Gear 2, Gear Live and more), the Gear S2 sports a round, 1.2 inch diameter face. Its display comes in 360 x 360 resolution with a dual core 1.2 GHz processor and 4 GB of internal memory.

Additionally, it boasts Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. The regular iteration sports a rubberized band in dark gray or silver, while the “Classic” iteration features a leather band and matching case.

No word regarding pricing yet, but interested parties will be able to learn more at the IFA electronics show in Berlin this Thursday, with word from Samsung soon.