Google announces AI model for scarily smart robots
Google says its new ‘Robotics Transformer 2’ AI model (or RT-2 for short) “brings us closer to a future of helpful robots”. The model has been “trained on text and images from the web”, which can then help inform robot behavior. To which we’d reply, have they seen the internet? Still, with proper guardrails in place, it certainly sounds like a potentially exciting leap towards a real-life Wall-E.
This vision-language-action model (VLA) is effectively like a ChatGPT for robots, letting them perform actions in familiar and, in particular, unfamiliar situations. That’s because RT-2 can apparently tease out concepts embedded in its training data and direct robot actions, even for things it hasn’t been trained to do. This sounds exciting and worrying in equal measure. Worry-citing? You can make up your own mind by reading Google DeepMind’s full blog on RT-2.
The Twitter (sorry, X) meltdown continues
The Curb Your Enthusiasm theme song is presumably on loop in the X Corp offices right now, as the social media site formally known as Twitter continues its doom spiral. Just as neighbors complain about a ridiculously bright, glowing X sign on top of the company’s HQ (below), Microsoft Edge is now warning some users (above) that the X website might be a scam.
As Bleeping Computer noted, this is happening because Edge (like other Chromium-based browsers) have a built-in feature called ‘Progressive Web App Icon change’ which watches for app name or icon changes, and warns about them. Because the X rebrand happened so fast, Edge is picking up its logo as the wrong icon.
It’s another example of the collateral damage that the blindingly bright new X logo below is currently a pretty great metaphor for…
Imagine no more. This is my life now. https://t.co/k5QfAm8yuG pic.twitter.com/e7ECCM2NUDJuly 29, 2023
Google Maps gets voice control boost for drivers
I’ve often wondered why Google Maps’ voice control has been so average when I’ve been on the road and asking it for petrol station options – and the reason is because it seemingly uses an older tech called Google’s Speech Services, rather than Google Assistant.
Well, that’s just changed according to the Google News Telegram channel, which says that Google Assistant will start being used for Maps voice controls on Android instead. This change is apparently a server-side update, so there’s no need to update the app – it should have already already rolled out to Android phones, along with a new built-in suggestion carousel.
Now, when you boot up the app and tap the mic icon in the search bar, you should be greeted by a new “faster way” to search on Maps. Definitely something to look out for if you’re planning a road trip soon…
Who wants a 98-inch 4K TV?
The answer, of course, is anyone who has a room big enough for one. And fortunately, TCL is helping to push 98-inch TVs down to affordable levels with its new P745 model in Europe.
It’s slated to launch in late August or early September for €2,800, which converts to around $3,100 / £2,400 / AU$4,600. Not exactly cheap, but also not bad for a 100/120Hz LCD panel with HDMI 2.1 ports and 144Hz VRR (variable refresh rate).
Sure, its lack of LED local dimming won’t serve up the ultimate HDR experience, but then this is a 98-inch 4K TV – and that sheer size may help you forgive any picture quality shortcomings.
It’s a good week to be a Nikon camera fan
Ever since the Nikon Z fc was launched in July 2021, camera fans have been asking why it wasn’t a full-frame camera. Well, it sounds like Nikon has listened to those pleas, because the Nikon Zf has now been tipped to land within the next few days.
Like the Z fc, the Zf is expected to be heavily inspired by the Nikon FM2 (below) from 1982, a camera that was renowned for being nigh-on indestructible. Hopefully, Nikon will add a bit more of that build quality this time, and sprinkle it with its latest autofocus tech.
If so, it could definitely have a winner on its hands, given the Fujifilm X100V remains largely sold out due to the popularity of classic film camera design.
Samsung Galaxy Ring rumors ramp up
It’s starting to sound like Samsung is getting serious about making a rival to the health-tracking Oura ring. A new report from South Korean website The Elec (via SamMobile) suggests that mass production on a Samsung Galaxy Ring could begin as early as August. The bad news? It still probably won’t launch until 2024.
We’re certainly fans of the Galaxy Ring’s name. The TechRadar team thinks it sounds like everything from an anime attack to someone you could use with four other elemental ringbearers to become Captain Galaxy.
But it could be equally fun for health-tracking, too. In a Galaxy Ring trademark filing that was uncovered in February, it was described as a smart device “for measuring health indicators and/or sleep in the form of ring”. And that’d fit nicely alongside the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6, which has an increasing focus on sleep.
This post originally appeared on TechToday.