Humanoid Robots, FedEx’s Commerce Platform, and More Entries In the Metaverse

Quantious Team
3 min readJan 19, 2024

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Emerging Tech Roundup — January 19

The Quantious team’s top picks for timely trending news in the tech world.

This week in tech: Tripadvisor Enters the Metaverse, Microsoft Wants to Automatically Launch its Copilot AI on Some Windows 11 Devices, Instagram’s Founders to Shut Down Artifact, AI Smart Pillow is Unveiled at CES, FedEx Announces its Own Commerce Platform for Merchants, Microsoft Makes its AI-Powered Reading Tutor Free, and BMW’s South Carolina Plant Tests Humanoid Robot Workers.

Tripadvisor Says It’s Entering the Metaverse: ‘Try Before You Buy’

(Skift, January 11)

Tripadvisor is set to launch a metaverse experience later this year, allowing users to virtually explore attractions in popular destinations such as Paris, Dubai, New York City, Chicago, and the Bahamas before making travel plans. The initiative aims to democratize travel by enabling users to “try-before-you-buy” and experience destinations from the comfort of their homes. Partnering with MeetKai, Tripadvisor plans to create digital spaces in collaboration with travel bureaus, incorporating elements like e-commerce, gaming, and social features to enhance the virtual travel experience.

Microsoft Wants to Automatically Launch its Copilot AI on Some Windows 11 Devices

(The Verge, January 12)

Microsoft is experimenting with Copilot’s automatic startup on Windows 11, where the AI assistant would appear as a sidebar upon booting up — a move criticized by some users who found it potentially annoying and reminiscent of the Clippy assistant in Microsoft Office. The company is currently testing this change in the Dev Channel preview of Windows 11, seeking feedback before a broader release. Initially, Microsoft plans to auto-launch Copilot only on “widescreen devices,” with users having the option to disable this feature.

Instagram’s Founders are Shutting Down Artifact, their Year-Old News App

(Engadget, January 12)

Artifact, the news app created by Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, is shutting down less than a year after its launch. The app, known for its AI-centric features and Reddit-like commenting and posting abilities, will maintain its “core news reading” features until the end of February, but commenting and posting will be disabled immediately. Despite journalists praising reporter-friendly features, Systrom and Krieger cited a limited market opportunity as the reason for discontinuing Artifact.

Could a ‘Smart” Pillow Use AI to Stop Your Snoring?

(CNET, January 15)

Chinese health company DeRucci has unveiled what it claims to be the world’s first smart, anti-snoring pillow at CES 2024. As part of its new line of sleep health technologies, the anti-snoring pillow uses sensors to detect subtle movements indicating snoring and adjusts the head position to reduce snoring and lower the risk of sleep apnea. DeRucci’s mission is to improve sleep quality, leading the company to collaborate with international medical organizations and release 12 new AI mattresses in the past year.

FedEx Announces its Own Commerce Platform for Merchants

(Tech Crunch, January 15)

FedEx has announced its own commerce platform called FDX, positioning itself to compete with Amazon by providing merchants with services like demand generation, fulfillment, tracking, and post-purchase experiences such as returns. FDX is currently in private preview, with plans for a broader launch in fall 2024. While FedEx highlighted buzzwords such as “data-driven” and “end-to-end e-commerce solution,” specific details on how it will compete with existing platforms, most notably Amazon, remain unclear.

Microsoft Makes its AI-Powered Reading Tutor Free

(Tech Crunch, January 18)

Microsoft has made its AI-powered Reading Coach tool — offering personalized reading practice — free for anyone with a Microsoft account. Currently available on the web in preview, a Windows app is in the pipeline, and integration with learning management systems like Canva is expected in late spring. Building on the success of Reading Progress, Microsoft aims to leverage AI technology to provide learners with transformative reading experiences.

BMW’s South Carolina Plant is Testing Humanoid Robot Workers

(The Verge, January 18)

Robotics startup Figure has entered a “commercial agreement” with BMW to introduce its “general purpose” humanoid robots at BMW’s South Carolina manufacturing facility. The robots aim to automate challenging, unsafe, or tedious manufacturing tasks, potentially increasing productivity and creating a safer environment. If successful in trials, Figure’s robots will be deployed in stages within BMW’s facility, showcasing a growing trend in the automotive industry to explore the integration of general-purpose robotics for enhanced efficiency.

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