Home robotics: After dumping smart car project, Apple working on potential 'next big thing'

Apple's three divisions-- hardware engineering, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning-- are said to oversee the home robotics project.
Last Updated : 04 April 2024, 12:46 IST
Last Updated : 04 April 2024, 12:46 IST

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For nearly a decade, Apple worked on a smart automobile under 'Project Titan', but due to indecision and lack of direction, the Cupertino-based company dumped the car project.

Now, Apple is working on the company's 'next best thing' in the field of home robotics, claims Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who has a solid track record of predicting Apple's unreleased products.

Apple engineers are exploring developing a personal robot that follows the owner around the home. Also, it will be able to assist owners in finishing household chores such as washing dishes.

And, there is also another version- a tabletop robot-- for video conferencing. It may come with hands and a display that can move the screen around to keep the focus on the face of the moving subject in the room.

Apple's three divisions-- hardware engineering, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning-- are said to oversee the project.

However, the new products are still in the early stage of design and Apple is yet to fully commit to the new project as it faces several hardware and technical challenges.

And, the cost factor may push the development of new home robotics projects on the back burner.

It should be noted that Apple spent a significant amount of time doing research on the viability of the Augmented Reality (AR) gadget Vision Pro in the market.

The Vision Pro was unveiled in 2022 and finally made available to customers in early 2023. To this day, it is available only in the US and Apple is planning to bring Vision Pro to China and other select markets later this year.

Initially, Apple's AR gadget received positive responses from both tech critics and consumers, but reports have started coming that customers are returning the device. Many are finding the Vision Pro too heavy on the head.

Apple is said to be working on a lightweight and affordable variant of Vision Pro.

So, Apple is unlikely to fully commit to home robotics just yet. It is expected to carry out more market research and also ensure the product has a Unique Selling Proposition (USP).

But, mobile smart robot for homes has big potential to turn into Apple's big cash cow after iPhones.

Amazon did try its hand with Astro, a home robot with Alexa voice assistant in 2021. It generated a lot of interest in the media for its uncanny resemblance to the adorable Wall-E robot of the multi-Academy Award-winning animation movie with the namesake.

Astro robot came with well-designed wheels at the base and a big display panel that features cute eye animation.

It can follow the owner at home and offer the latest information on the weather, real-time updates on sports, set a reminder or alarm, control Internet-of-Things (IoT) gadgets and even make video calls, do most of the chores the current crop of table-top Echo smart speakers do.

Amazon Astro robot.

Amazon Astro robot.

Photo Credit: Amazon India

The most notable aspect of the Amazon Astro was its ability to patrol the home like an autonomous security guard. It can move autonomously around the home, and navigate to check in on specific areas. It can also show a live view of rooms through the Astro app, or even send alerts if it detects an unrecognised person.

The Astro home robot.

The Astro home robot.

Photo Credit: Amazon

But, unfortunately, Astro failed to elicit a good response from the public, most probably due to its expensive $2,349.99 price tag and lack of proper user privacy features.

For now, there's no word on when Apple is likely to bring home robots to the market.

Get the latest news on new launches, gadget reviews, apps, cybersecurity, and more on personal technology only on DH Tech.

Published 04 April 2024, 12:46 IST

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