The Wonder, June 8 - Home Robots, Underwater Data Centers, and Movement Disorder APIs

INthe wonder, blog, technology|BYsf appworks

A Weekly Snapshot of Life-Changing Technology

Happy Friday!

Apple’s annual World Wide Developer Conference was this week (Android users scroll down). Though the world’s most valuable company didn’t announce any new hardware, they did announce some exciting software features. We’re most excited about the Augmented Reality tape measure that will come standard on iOS 12, the ability to stream podcasts on the Watch, and group Facetime. See the list.

This newsletter is an effort to highlight notable examples of like-minded people and organizations, inspired by new technology and eager to help people with it.

Enjoy!

Home Robots

Amazon is working on an ambitious plan to build domestic robots. The company plans to start testing robots in employees’ homes this year and could start selling them to consumers as soon as 2019.

Read More>> 

Andrew’s Take: People have been trying to build home robots for thirty years and only one has really caught on (Roomba). Coincidence that on the day of this announcement, Roomba shares fell nearly 10%? Or maybe investors believe that Amazon’s first foray into in-home robots will be more Roomba and less Alexa than some hope.      

Darius’s Take: It makes sense for Amazon to keep pushing to stay ahead of the industry. They already have most of the technologies needed for a home robot – voice interactions with Alexa, functioning robots working in their warehouses, and experience with hardware devices like the Fire (Andrew says RIP) and Echo. They definitely have the experience to pull it all together. If they can figure out how to do even one basic chore well, this could be a big win.

Underwater Data Centers

Microsoft deployed a working data center off the coast of Scotland. Underwater data centers can use the ocean’s natural cooling power while also delivering high-speed data to highly populated nearby cities.

Read More>> 

Andrew’s Take: It’s no secret that data centers consume huge amounts of electricity. It costs more to cool them than the equipment itself. Data centers in the water are easier to cool (less energy consumption), closer to major populations (faster data), and could be powered by ocean turbines that use wave energy to generate electricity (renewable). This is one of those things that you might not notice, but you’ll definitely benefit from.

Darius’s Take: Terrestrial data centers are HUGE buildings that need to protect against all kinds of natural disasters and terrorism. They’re also typically in remote locations. It’s true that some of the risks will carry over into the water and there will be some new ones, but my sense is there will be fewer. Question – who (and how) will they maintain them? It’s yet to be seen whether the overall economic advantage will be worth it.

Movement Disorder

Apple Watch can now be used to monitor Parkinson’s symptoms. Their new Movement Disorder API will continuously track Watch users throughout the day for tremors and dyskinesia – two symptoms associated with Parkinson’s.

Read More>> 

Andrew’s Take: Coming off the heels of Apple’s annual World Wide Developer Conference, most people are talking about the new Animojis or Facetime supporting 32 people, but this has more life-improving implications. My Apple Watch mostly still feels like a novelty item. I like the fitness tracker and even signed up for the Apple Heart Study. With each new health-related feature, it gets closer to crossing over to ‘indispensable’, perhaps even ‘life-saving’.

Darius’s Take: Sensors keep evolving to detect more and more things. First arrhythmia, then stroke, now this. We’re still in the early stages of predicting health problems and it already feels so exciting. I can’t wait to watch this going forward. (nice pun, D)

One Worldy Thing

The World Cup kicks off next Thursday in Russia. Brazil, Germany, and Spain are the favorites, though we’ll be watching whether Messi can lead Argentina to a win in what will likely be his last World Cup, as well as whether Egypt forward Mohamed Saleh can carry his breakout season onto the world stage. Who do you got, Saleh or Messi?

Watch>> 

Thanks for reading! We’ll see you next week.

-Andrew and Darius