, Tech

From artificial intelligence applications that give you financial advice to robots that serve you tea, Ashwin Rajagopalan lists technological innovations to look out for in the coming month


Imagine a robot delivering your morning cuppa! A number of hotels in the Bay Area of California, the US, house an e-butler named Botlr, a state-of-the-art robot programmed to carry out tasks such as delivering extra towels and toiletries to guests. With the advancement of technology, artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled robots are slowly, but gradually, finding more takers. They are becoming smarter and may soon be programmed to offer financial advice, carry out simple household tasks and even give you medication reminders.


Artificial intelligence is the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. The term is applied to the project of developing systems endowed with the intellectual processes characteristic of humans, such as the ability to reason, discover meaning or learn from past experience.


A building constructed without man and mortar; a cake baked without flour and butter; and a human organ that doesn’t belong to a human being. These are not ideas for a new science fiction movie but realities made possible by threedimensional (3D) printing. While this is a technology that has seen several updates over the last few years, the future, experts believe, holds promise for even greater innovations. In 2016, 3D printing achieved a new high when it was used to create a 250 sq m (2,700 sq ft) office building in Dubai. The structure was completed in 17 days on a budget of $140,000. A 3D printer that used a special cement mixture was utilised for the construction, which now houses the operations of the Dubai Future Foundation. In India, simple 3D printers are available online at affordable rates.


3D printing involves crafting threedimensional solid objects from a digital file using additive processes. This is achieved by laying down successive layers of material. The virtual design is usually a CAD (Computer Aided Design) file that is created with a 3D modelling application or a 3D scanner.


If you are an avid traveller, chances are you already know what augmented reality (AR) can do. AR-enhanced mobile applications such as Blippar and Wikitude can act as your personal tour guides – they can recognise an unknown dish served at a restaurant, give you a real-time tour of a hotel room or aircraft cabin, and help you make smart choices overall. In other words, AR can give you an experience of travel before you even start packing! AR is the technology that blurs the line between reality andthe digital interface by placing computer-generated objects in the real world, in real time. While we expect many more AR-enhanced apps to be launched in 2018, the launch of Apple’s iPhone X and iPhone 8 last year underlined the company’s firm backing of this technology. From the Ikea Place app that lets you virtually place products in your house to the BMW iVisualiser app that lets you visualise your ideal car model, we’re seeing big brands leverage the power of AR.

The author is a tech expert and the views expressed in the article are his own

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