Weekly Recap: Boston Dynamics for sale, Wozniak worries, PlayStation VR, World Drone Prix…

For Sale: Boston Dynamics

At the end of 2013, Google acquired Boston Dynamics with a view to setting up a new robotics division. Andy Rubin, father of Android, headed up the division, eventually called “Replicant” by Google. But analysts at Alphabet Inc. concluded that Boston Dynamics was years away from generating a marketable product able to contribute revenue to the company's bottom line. A decision was made to sell the company; Toyota's and Amazon's research institutes are rumoured to be among interested purchasers.

Bloomberg, “Google puts Boston Dynamics up for sale in robotics retreat.”

Sony’s VR Headset Available in October

Sony announced it will launch its virtual reality headset in October of this year. The PlayStation VR will connect to the PlayStation 4 and cost $399. Its affordable price, coupled with the 35 million PlayStation 4s already sold worldwide, all but guarantee quick market penetration. Its success will ultimately depend on the quality of the games available, some of which are to be developed by major players such as Ubisoft, 2 K Games and Electronic Arts. Fifty games are expected to be on offer by the end of the year, in time for the Holiday season.

Ars Technica, “Sony’s PlayStation VR will launch in October for $399.”

Wozniak Has no Time for the Apple Watch

Steve Wozniak, Reddit

Steve Wozniak, cofounder of Apple, doesn’t seem to be buying into Apple’s diversification into luxury goods. During a Q&A session with Reddit users, Wozniak, while acknowledging Tim Cook’s leadership, said: “I worry a little bit about - I mean I love my Apple Watch, but - it’s taken us into a jewelry market where you’re going to buy a watch between $500 and $1,199 based on how important you think you are as a person. The only difference is the band in all those watches. Twenty watches from $500 to $1100. The band’s the only difference? Well this isn’t the company that Apple was originally, or the company that really changed the world a lot.”

The Guardian, “Apple co-founder criticises company over Apple Watch.”

Reddit, “I’m Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak, Ask Me Anything!”

Robust Robots

Inspired by ants that join forces to move heavy loads, developers at Stanford University, California, have developed microrobots weighing in at less than 20 grams each, that, together, can move a 1,800-kg car. The key to this tour de force lies in the precise synchronisation of their efforts.

The New York Times, “Modeled After Ants, Teams of Tiny Robots Can Move 2-Ton Car.”

Drone Racing in Dubai

The “World Drone Prix” is a track race for drones. Drone races, often spectacular night-time affairs, are reminiscent of the movie Tron. In Dubai, First Place was won by a 15-year old Brit, Luke Bannister, and his team, Tornado X-Blades Banni-UK. Bannister and his team went home US$250,000 richer, having beaten out almost 150 competing teams.

The Verge, “Teenager wins $250,000 in biggest drone race yet.”


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