Emerging Tech Roundup — September 22
The Quantious team’s top picks for timely trending news in the tech world.
This week in tech: Angry Birds Inspired Surgeon’s ‘Game Changing’ Tool, Agility Robotics is Opening a Humanoid Robot Factory, Boxbot Pivots From Last-Mile Trucks to Robotical Parcel Storage, iOS 17 is Now Available, World’s Most Powerful X-Ray Laser Fired For The First Time, Google’s Bard Chatbot Can Now Find Answers in Your Gmail and Drive, and DeepMind’s New AI Can Predict Genetic Diseases.
Angry Birds Inspired Surgeon’s ‘Game Changing’ Tool
(BBC, September 16)
Trauma surgeon David Howie has leveraged virtual reality technology to revolutionize orthopedic surgery, inspired by a gaming session with his daughter. His team developed a low-cost VR system, allowing surgeons to practice complex procedures outside the operating room. The innovation is significantly improving surgical outcomes and is now being adopted — holding promise for aiding orthopedic surgeons in other healthcare settings.
Agility Robotics is Opening a Humanoid Robot Factory, Beating Tesla to The Punch
(CNBC, September 18)
Agility Robotics is nearing completion of a 70,000-square-foot factory in Oregon, known as “RoboFab,” where it intends to manufacture its first line of humanoid robots. These robots are designed with two legs and two arms to operate seamlessly alongside humans in warehouse and factory settings. The company’s achievement positions it ahead of potential competition like Tesla’s Optimus initiative — offering robots in human-like forms, capable of lifting, sorting, maneuvering, and more in diverse environments.
Boxbot Pivots From Last-Mile Trucks to Robotical Parcel Storage
(Tech Crunch, September 18)
Bay Area-based startup Boxbot has decided to pivot toward warehouse automation, capitalizing on the demand in this space. The startup has developed a three-dimensional conveyor system designed to maximize storage density in warehouses, and has just reached $29.5 million in total funding. Boxbot is already in talks with partners and testing various sites for deployment of their production-level systems.
iOS 17 is Now Available
(Engadget, September 18)
Apple has released iOS 17, which is now available for installation on eligible devices. This update, designed for iPhones from 2018 onwards, brings significant enhancements to Messages, FaceTime, and the keyboard, among other features. Notable additions include audio message transcriptions, a revamped Messages app layout, video voicemails in FaceTime, StandBy mode for smart displays while charging, and innovative features like NameDrop for quick contact sharing and predictive text on the keyboard.
World’s Most Powerful X-Ray Laser Fired For The First Time
(Interesting Engineering, September 18)
The US Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has successfully fired the first X-rays using the upgraded Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL), known as LCLS-II. SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has a long history of developing cutting-edge scientific tools, with the original LCLS being the world’s first XFEL in 2009. The LCLS-II represents a significant advancement, enabling scientists to use highly powerful X-rays for in-depth studies of materials and biological substances, surpassing the limitations of the original LCLS.
Google’s Bard Chatbot Can Now Find Answers in Your Gmail, Docs, Drive
(The Verge, September 19)
Google’s Bard has expanded its capabilities by integrating with Gmail, Docs, and Drive, allowing users to easily retrieve information from their emails and documents. Users can now ask Bard to find, summarize, or highlight key content from emails and documents stored in their Google accounts. These integrations are designed to streamline information retrieval and manipulation, offering users more efficient ways to work with their data.
DeepMind’s New AI Can Predict Genetic Diseases
(Wired, September 19)
Google DeepMind has introduced AlphaMissense, a machine learning model designed to analyze missense variants and predict their likelihood of causing diseases. The model has an impressive 90% accuracy rate, surpassing existing tools. Unlike DeepMind’s AlphaFold, which predicts protein structures, AlphaMissense functions more like a language model, akin to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. It has been trained on the language of biological sequences, enabling it to identify abnormal amino acid sequences in proteins, similar to spotting incongruous words in a sentence.