It’s AI for Walmart and Amazon

It’s AI for Walmart and Amazon

On a day when several big names, and not so big ones, revealed their AI-backed future, an Indian startup operating in the healthcare wearables market showcased connected hardware that can monitor your health at your home. In other news, there was a Siri competitor on display as were there a slew of offerings in the automobile and accessories segment.

Small is beautiful… healthcare & deep fakes

Before getting into the announcements and revelations from the big guns, there were a few coming from the smaller entities that enticed our interest. The first of these happens to be an Indian (Bangalore-based) healthcare startup. Ultrahuman Home is a box that sits anywhere in your house and monitors and collects data around the environment. 

(Source: Ultrahuman) 

This sleek Wi-Fi router-lookalike health monitoring system hardware designed to monitor health at home. The Ultrahuman Home was showcased at the annual tech event where the company announced that shipments would start in July at $349. What’s more, the company intends to soon integrate the device with other IoT devices that opens up new vistas in home health. (Read more about the product here). 

Another interesting revelation related to a solution to identify deep fakes, especially in the wake of major concerns amongst the general public about how these could be used in elections to two of the world’s largest democracies – India and the US – during 2024. Fox has now joined hands with Polygon Labs, a layer-2 blockchain working on scaling Ethereum, to release an open source protocol for media companies to register their articles, photographs etc. 

The solution is called Verify and both Fox and Polygon are claiming that the protocol would be a means for media outlets to protect their IP while letting consumers verify the authenticity of their content. Fox claims that the Verify protocol helps establish the origins and history of original journalism by cryptographically signing individual content pieces via blockchain. 

Fox, which launched a beta version of Verify in August, now aims to deploy the technology on a larger scale than earlier such efforts. It is already using Verify to register content from Fox-owned brands and affiliated TV stations. Already 80,000 pieces of news content has been signed with Verify. 

The fully open source protocol is free to use by publishers and other content builders. Verify also allows third-party apps to be built on top of it and is designed to support all media content types. In addition to the authentication function, Verify can also be used as a means to license content to vendors for training or serving generative AI models. 

Do check out our report on the CES 2024 Day One Revelations

Walmart debuts AI-powered tools; so does Amazon

Walmart execs were present in droves explaining how the retail giant was using new age tech, from augmented reality (AR) to generative AI (GenAI) and drones to improve the shopping experience for its customers. There are two AI-powered tools for managing product search and replenishment, and an AR social commerce platform called “Shop with Friends”. 

(Source: Walmart) 

Of course, the use of AI was all-pervading as it found mention within Sam’s Club, as well as in apps used by store associates. There is also a new GenAI search feature on iOS that allows customers to search for products by use cases instead of brand names or specific products. In other words, you could search for things needed for an excursion and get the entire list. 

For those of us who thought Amazon would be close behind, it wasn’t so. However, Amazon did announce that it will be the first company to support Matter Casting – the video and audio beaming service feature of the Matter smart home standard – on its displays and smart TVs. Users on the Prime Video app (both iOS and Android) can cast content to supported Amazon devices, simply by tapping the Matter Casting button. 

(Source: Amazon) 

As promised last year, Amazon also shared some new tools to build large language model-powered experiences. These included a new GenAI powered Alexa experience and an AI chatbot platform called Character AI. Then there was also the AI music company Splash and the Voice AI game developer Volley. All these are now available on Amazon Alexa Skill store. 

Move aside Siri… rabbit r1 is here

Now, this is one idea that assumes several things, chiefly that a user would carry a second device instead of opening the smartphone and use natural language to pass on instructions. The makers of rabbit r1 (all lowercase) are convinced that users will pay $200 to allow users to keep their phone in their bags or pockets while ordering a cab to your location. 

(Source: rabbit) 

The gadget in itself looks rather cute as you would see in the image. More than that, the developers have gone to great lengths to make it work alongside the smartphone. It is not killing the phone as it’s now more an entertainment device, the creators say while noting that when it comes to efficiencies, the smartphone isn’t top notch when one wants to get things done. 

How so? To arrange dinner with a colleague, we needed four-five different apps to work together. Large language models are a universal solution for natural language, and we want a universal solution for these services. So they should just understand you, says CEO and founder Jesse Lyu while talking about the rabbit that they pulled out of their hat! 

So, instead of pulling out the smartphone, unlocking it, finding the relevant app, opening it and doing what needs to be done, just pull out rabbit r1 and give it a command in natural language. The company used its large action model on millions of screenshots and videos of apps which helps rabbit r1 find what you are looking for quite easily. 

It knows how to work with common apps and services and in case there’s one it isn’t familiar with, the developers note that rabbit r1 can learn by watching you use it. Quite smart eh? In case you wonder how the device will press your choices via the app buttons, well, it doesn’t have fingers to do so but has something called “rabbit hole” – a platform that can activate the services with one’s login credentials (that aren’t saved). Once active, the server operates the app using ordinary button presses in an emulated environment. Voila!! 

A bevy of healthcare and wellness products

We brought in Ultrahuman right up front because of our India bias. But, there are a slew of other such products including Serenity showcasing its fall-detection system that uses radar tech and AI to track up to two individuals within a 40-feet range through walls. It also offers detailed information about the person’s activities. (Read more on their website) 

(Source: Cherish) 

Then there’s Singapore-based Tack One that brought out a new generation of its Tack GPS Plus, an AI-powered location technology device to make sure children and the elderly as well as pets are safe. Of course, the service doesn’t come free and costs a monthly subscription of $2.95 over a two-year period. (Get more details)

And finally, there is Vivoo that offers a wide range of at-home tests that has now come up with a new one that can detect urinary tract infections. The at-home UTI test streamlines the diagnostic process for the ailment and utilizes a phone camera to record and analyze the color readout of the test strips, post which it provides advice in the context of the readings. 

Last but not the least, the elderly care robot

Before you start hallucinating around a robot giving your elderly dad or mom a leg or shoulder massage, we would burst the bubble by telling you that this elderly care robot is more about collaborating with the aged and providing companionship. Which is exactly what ElliQ does by creating a painting or writing poems in collaboration with the elderly. 

The entire world is aging and some like Japan faster than others. India is moving towards losing its population advantage over the next three decades. Which is why the work done by Intuition Robotics is worth a mention in these reports. Having hit the market last March, the outcomes were robust enough for the company to raise a further $25 million. 

Most of the funds have gone into ElliQ 3, which is the latest version of the robot that features design changes, more powerful hardware and integration with GenAI. The on-board MediaTek octa-core processor has got an upgrade with hardware shifts focussing on improving ease-of-use and the ability to scale-up manufacturing. 

The Israeli startup claims to be leveraging LLMs to enhance conversational capabilities of ElliQ, given that it’s the primary job. The company says users can discuss a virtually infinite number of topics in a more natural and detailed manner with the robot. For example, the robot can paint or write poems and contribute to the cognitive wellness and creativity of the user. And ElliQ can share these with loved ones or its larger community to contribute social wellness, reduced loneliness and a greater sense of recognition. 


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