U.S. Supermarkets Get Spill-Detecting Robots, With Human Controllers in the Philippines

(SEEKONK, Mass.) — A wheeled robot named Marty is rolling into nearly 500 grocery stores to alert employees if it encounters spilled granola, squashed tomatoes or a broken jar of mayonnaise.

But there could be a human watching from behind its cartoonish googly eyes.

Badger Technologies CEO Tim Rowland says its camera-equipped robots stop after detecting a potential spill. But to make sure, humans working in a control center in the Philippines review the imagery before triggering a cleanup message over the loudspeaker.

Rowland says 25 of the robots are now operating at certain Giant, Martin’s and Stop & Shop stores, with 30 more arriving each week. Carlisle, Pennsylvania-based Giant says it has two robots now working at stores in the state, and plans to expand to all 172 Giant stores by the middle of this year.

The chains are all part of Dutch parent company Ahold Delhaize.

The robots move around using laser-based “lidar” sensors and pause when shoppers and their carts veer into their path.

The googly eyes are fake, but each robot has eight cameras — some directed down at the floor and others that can see shelves. Rowland said the robots can eventually be repurposed to help monitor a store’s inventory.

A robot observed Tuesday at a Stop & Shop store in Seekonk, Massachusetts, alerted store associates to a price tag that had fallen in one aisle, and a tiny sprig of herbs in another. After moving along for a few minutes, it returned to the scene of each spill and waited until an employee pushed a button to acknowledge that the debris was picked up.

It’s not the only robot that U.S. shoppers might spot this year. Walmart and Midwestern supermarket chain Schnucks have deployed robots that help monitor inventory.

A union that represents Giant and Stop & Shop workers says it’s keeping an eye on Marty. It remains to be seen what the groceries will ultimately use the technology for.

UFCW President Marc Perrone said in an emailed statement that the “aggressive expansion of automation in grocery and retail stores is a direct threat to the millions of American workers who power these industries and the customers they serve.”

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Source:: Time – Technology


This Picture of An Egg is Now the Most-Liked Post on Instagram

Instagram has a new queen, and it’s an egg.

A photo of a perfectly normal, oval-shaped, brown-colored egg has been liked over 26 million times since it was uploaded January 4, dethroning Kylie Jenner’s birth announcement as the app’s most popular post.

The bizarre phenomenon appears to have been a planned attempt to break the record, having been posted under the handle world_record_egg. Thanks to the Internet’s well-documented love of the truly random, the self-proclaimed “EGG GANG” succeeded on Sunday, topping the 18 million mark that Jenner set with a picture of her newborn daughter Stormi in February 2018.

View this post on Instagram

Let’s set a world record together and get the most liked post on Instagram. Beating the current world record held by Kylie Jenner (18 million)! We got this 🙌 #LikeTheEgg #EggSoldiers #EggGang

A post shared by EGG GANG 🌍 (@world_record_egg) on Jan 4, 2019 at 9:05am PST

The egg is the first non-human to break into the site’s top 20 most popular posts.

Jenner now has only the second-most liked post on Instagram. She responded to her relegation with a video of herself cracking an egg on to the pavement:

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Take that little egg

A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on Jan 13, 2019 at 6:04pm PST

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Source:: Time – Technology


This cruise will give you a sea creature friend

Each week, we spotlight a cool innovation recommended by some of the industry’s top tech writers. This week’s pick is an aquatic virtual avatar.

Carnival Corp. is populating its ships with virtual avatars that follow passengers throughout a cruise, said John Gaudiosi at Wired. The avatars, or “Tagalongs” — each takes the form of a sea turtle, seahorse, or angelfish, which passengers can then customize to their liking — appear on screens that passengers pass by, and even on their cellphones. They are activated by a “Medallion,” a poker chip–size token worn as a necklace or bracelet.

(Courtesy image)

The chips were introduced last year with 7,000 sensors wired into the 19 decks of Carnival’s Caribbean Princess. Now the entire Princess fleet of 17 ships has been retrofitted to accommodate them. Carnival hopes that eventually the “very design of future cruise ships could evolve based on both the feedback” from the ubiquitous sensors and passengers’ interactions with the Tagalongs.

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Source:: The Week – Tech