Mattel decides AI babysitters that sing lullabies are a bad idea

6 Oct 2017

Still from ‘Nabi Aristotle: Hands On’. Image: YouTube/Engadget

This week in IoT, toymaker Mattel has bowed to major privacy concerns and nixed plans for its AI-powered babysitter.

There was a bit of a ‘buzz’ about the internet of things (IoT) this week with news that the Cork-based start-up ApisProject was named Business of the Year by Ignite, a programme established in 2011 to support recent third-level graduates in growing their businesses.

Led by Fiona Edwards-Murphy, ApisProject places sensors within beehives and, using the power of big data and machine learning, is able to identify when a hive is under threat from either disease or pests.

This marks another major milestone of Edwards-Murphy’s career, having already received a number of awards for her work from the likes of Google, IBM and the Irish Research Council.

Mattel fires AI babysitter after privacy concerns

Elsewhere in the world this week, toymaker Mattel abandoned the production of its Aristotle artificial intelligence (AI) home assistant over fears it could be a major invasion of privacy.

According to the BBC, the purpose of the device would be as a ‘babysitter’ of sorts that would be placed near a child, singing lullabies and telling bedtime stories to keep the child occupied.

When the device was revealed back at CES earlier this year, Mattel called it a major leap in parenting technology.

“Aristotle is designed with a specific purpose and mission: to aid parents and use the most advanced AI-driven technology to make it easier for them to protect, develop and nurture the most important asset in their home: their children,” it said.

The US-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood responded by saying: “Aristotle isn’t a nanny, it’s an intruder. Children’s bedrooms should be free of corporate snooping.”

Irish tech firm partners with US heavy hitters on industrial IoT solution

Irish tech firm Action Point has partnered with Microsoft, Dell and Intel to develop an out-of-the-box solution for manufacturers looking to tap into the world of the industrial IoT (IIoT).

According to Action Point, the IoT-PREDICT solution gathers extensive real-time data from the production floor to help manufacturers reduce down time, improve overall equipment effectiveness and deliver cost savings.

Action Point’s head of IoT, Ivan O’Connor, said: “Our aim was to have relevant and accurate industrial IoT data flowing from the factory floor to the engineering and management team’s desktops within 10 minutes of opening the box.”

Hilton plans to hook up all of its rooms to IoT tech

In an effort to give itself an edge on the competitive hotel and room rental market, Hilton has revealed plans to hook up over 800,000 hotel rooms to IoT devices.

According to Commercial Integrator, the plans were revealed by the company’s CEO Christopher Nassetta at a recent conference.

Among some of the perks would be to choose what drinks you might want in your fridge before you arrive, or your room knowing your favourite TV shows before you get there.

As Nassetta said: “Imagine a world where the room knows you and you know your room.”

ZTE and Telenet open 5G innovation centre in Brussels

Chinese telecoms technology provider ZTE has announced a collaboration with the Belgian network provider Telenet to open a 5G innovation centre in the city of Brussels.

In the centre, Telenet will test new technology for connectivity and give partners the opportunity to test their projects using Telenet technology.

One of the biggest focuses of the centre will be on preparing for the launch of 5G connectivity in Belgium with the latest network components and antennas having already been installed in the newly opened innovation centre.

Ming Xiao, president of ZTE Europe, said at the launch: “[The centre is where] we can show how video and entertainment, 5G technologies, IoT, cloud services, AI and augmented reality really come together to offer amazing customer experiences.”

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic