Sure, we have our Roombas and a few AR Drones here and there, but researchers expect that we’ll have many more – and better – robots within the next few years and that the overall market should hit $6.5 billion by 2017.
According to ABI Research’s Consumer Electronics Research Service, the consumer robotics market is currently at about $1.6 billion and growing. A slow economy and fairly expensive parts has stagnated things for the time being but improved devices and more interesting implementations – home helper robots, for example – could push the market up considerably.
As we’ve seen in our visit with Bossa Nova Robotics, devices like the Mobi ball bot can move through crowded spaces and help out in unique situations. While it’s still no Rosie the Robot, I could imagine a cleaning bot that could also help move heavy objects as a team effort and robots that can inspect chimneys and drains. Interestingly, the problem of safety begins to crop up when talking about consumer robotics.
Obviously the question remains: did the robots start the fire on purpose?
We first stumbled on Dear Assistant by chance earlier this morning. A quick check through its tweets, which include answers to word meanings, weather conditions, language translation, time zone conversions, date calculations, led us to this gem:
@yourcombine Who created you? | I was created by Stephen Wolfram and his team.Why? | Because.
— Dear Assistant (@DearAssistant) March 8, 2013
As far as we could tell, this wasn’t built by Wolfram Alpha, but the answers certainly lined up. We asked Amit Agarwal, the bot’s creator, if our guess was correct.
“You got that right,” Agarwal told TNW in an email. “The bot is getting the answers through Wolfram. I have open sourced the bot so anyone can build upon it. The unique thing is that it is running as a Google Script inside Google Drive.”
Agarwal calls his creation “a mini version of Siri” which actually isn’t too far off given that Siri also leverages Wolfram Alpha. Furthermore, he explains you can quickly recreate it yourself:
See also – Twitter’s API keys and secrets for its official apps surface; what should we do with them? and Twitter kills TweetDeck for iPhone, Android and AIR, drops Facebook integration, Mac and PC versions live on
Image credit: Iva Villi
Go here to read the rest: Dear Assistant: A Twitter bot that uses Wolfram Alpha to answer your burning questions
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Lesson for social networking startups: Don’t mess around with your early adopters. Tiny Post, the 500 Startups-backed company that lets users post photos with short messages attached to them (like a visual Twitter), has been called out by one of its users for putting bots on the network to follow legitimate people on the site. To its immense credit, the minute we alerted the company to this, co-founder Dick Brouwer admitted that he was doing this, to test user engagement, and said he would take down the bots immediately.
The bots were first picked up by David Lee, founder of iOS and social web app developer GP Apps, who wrote about it on his own blog. There, he notes that he’d signed up for Tiny Post 10 months ago but never had much use for it. But quite recently, he’d started to pick up followers out of the blue. He’d noticed some similarities in the profiles — examples below — and started to get suspicious.
He then crossposted his findings to Hacker News. That HN post has been picking up a lot of response — including others noting the same problem with bot followers on Tiny Post, others coming to Tiny Post’s defense, and others describing how annoying bots creep into sites without the involvement of the sites themselves (a story in its own right. Hi, Twitter.)
So we did the natural thing journalists do: we reached out to Tiny Post for a response. Dick Brouwer, juggling two newborns (one being an actual human; the other being Tiny Post), tells us this:
Oh dear, this is not what I intended to happen. Yes, we have been testing with 20 users to figure out what likes/follows can do to user engagement. It was intended as an effort to learn how important these social dynamics are to Tiny Post and what makes some users very sticky, and others not. It was never my intention to come off as shady or spammy (I’m never a fan when that happens to me as a user). I’ll email Dave right away.
Clearly this wasn’t the right way to learn more about our users; I just suspended all engagement.
So: bye-bye bots — for this time, at least.
Tiny Post, which debuted at Tiny Reviews, rebranded itself at the end of August, when it added some new features, including placing text onto pictures, to take advantage of the fact that it was picking up a lot of people using the site to create memes — which, unlike bots, are one of the more fun side-effects of the social media revolution.
HT to Dave McClure on a slightly different headline, which I preferred to the one I had.
I’m a big fan of the Mac OS X app Flutter and have been using it to skip tracks in Spotify and iTunes since it launched. When I visited Y Combinator Demo Day, I tagged Bot Square, the company behind Flutter, as a team to keep an eye on.
Bot Square promised that it wouldn’t just stick to the simple pause and play gesture for music apps and has added the ability to interact with video apps as well. With that in mind, Flutter has launched gesture support for both VLC and QuickTime:
The company still lists the app in “Alpha” mode, which means that it’s still very early on for Flutter. The company has big plans to help your webcam become the “Kinect” for computers.
Right now, you can only hold your hand up to the camera to play or pause a song or video, but you can expect more gestures in the near future as Flutter works out the bugs.