Japan’s latest home robot isn’t useful — it’s designed to be loved

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A pair of Lovot robots at their unveiling this week. Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

It’s not been a great year for home robots, with two high-profile projects — Jibo and Kuri — shuttering operations. But a new competitor from Japan is entering the market with a different approach. Lovot, created by Kaname Hayashi, a former developer of the humanoid robot Pepper, is a furry, foot-and-a-half-high creation that’s designed only to be loved.

“This robot won’t do any of your work. In fact, it might just get in the way,” Hayashi told Bloomberg. “Everything about this robot is designed to create attachment.”

Lovot looks a lot like an upgraded Furby. It has minimal motor function (it can’t fetch you a beer or hoover your kitchen) but interacts with users with a pair of lively eyes and wordless chirping noises. It has a trio of wheels for scooting around your home, and a pair of flippers that it can use to show surprise, affection, or even beg to be picked up.

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This $1,500 mirror streams live fitness classes to compete with Peloton and ClassPass

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Another at-home fitness company is making its debut today. Mirror is coming out of stealth mode with the introduction of its eponymous device. It’s a mirror atop a 40-inch, 1080p vertical display that plays live or prerecorded fitness classes. The idea is that you can stand in front of the mirror, follow a trainer’s instructions that are displayed behind your reflection, and still see yourself working out. It’s in stark contrast to people having to prop their phones up to watch a class or working out in their living rooms because it’s where their TV is. The device costs $1,495. Yes, that’s right. It’s very expensive. With it, you get a heart rate monitor that straps across your chest and resistance bands. A monthly content subscription costs $39.

The device includes built-in speakers, so there’s no need to hook up external audio, although you can over Bluetooth. You can play your own music through Spotify Premium or rely on Mirror’s own music. The class will automatically load a playlist, but users can swap those out as they want. It also features a 5-megapixel built-in camera at the top with a privacy cover. This is only used if users pay for personal training sessions.

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Natural gas firms have a proposal to convert home heating to hydrogen

Residential Natural Gas Meters In Chester County, Pennsylvania

Three companies want to test out a pilot project in Northern England by 2028.

Three natural gas distributors issued a report this week detailing plans to convert the UK’s residential gas system to a hydrogen delivery system. UK firms Northern Gas Networks and Cadent, as well as Norwegian gas firm Equinor, wrote that the proposal (PDF) was technically feasible. They also suggested an initial roll-out of the program to 3.7 million homes and 400,000 businesses in Northern England could commence as soon as 2028.

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Naked 3d body scanner is like a wellness center at home

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The full-body scanner helps you keep tabs on your body’s fat composition without visiting a wellness coach.

In recent years, health and wellness has become increasingly connected to technology, with a bevy of health-forward products entering the market. These devices include everything from smart watches that do double duty as fitness and heart rate monitors to a smart mirror that transforms your wall into a home gym instructor to entire smart home automation systems. So it may come as no surprise that the home is increasingly the beneficiary of technology that formerly was only available at doctor’s offices, high-end spas, and wellness retreats.

Now, the next step in the convergence of technology and wellness is the Naked 3D Fitness Tracker, the world’s first 3D body scanner designed for the home. Gone are the days when health-conscious individuals had to settle for counting calories, pounds, and steps. The Wi-Fi/Bluetooth-enabled mirror, designed by Naked Labs, allows users to receive up-to-the-minute information about their bodies—including body fat and fat mass—that enable them to make better choices about their health. Moreover, the data isn’t a single number; because it’s scanning your entire body, the system lets you see exactly how your body’s mass is distributed.

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This LED faucet light changes color based on water temperature and it’s my new favorite thing

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Sometimes the simplest little gadgets can be so cool, and that’s exactly the case with the DLAND RC-F03 Colorful LED Water Faucet Attachment. This little device screws into any standard tap in your sink and water flows through it normally. But here’s the cool part: it has different color LEDs inside that automatically turn on when water flows through it! Red means hot, blue means cold, and green means just right. 2-packs are only $9.99 right now on Amazon, so definitely check it out.

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How Bill Gates aims to save $233 billion by reinventing the toilet

Gates Foundation spent $200 million funding toilet research

LIXIL is among companies drawn to potential $6 billion market

Bill Gates thinks toilets are a serious business, and he’s betting big that a reinvention of this most essential of conveniences can save a half million lives and deliver $200 billion-plus in savings.

The billionaire philanthropist, whose Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation spent $200 million over seven years funding sanitation research, showcased some 20 novel toilet and sludge-processing designs that eliminate harmful pathogens and convert bodily waste into clean water and fertilizer.

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The future of construction may be concrete that generates its own electricity

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We need buildings in which to live, but crafting those buildings is making it harder to live on this planet. As much as 10% of global carbon emissions come from the production of concrete. One ton of CO2 is generated by making one ton of cement, which is made from limestone and a few other things heated to an extremely high temperature.

But what if concrete could generate its own energy? The era of photovoltaic concrete may be getting closer. Photovoltaics, which work by converting light to energy via semiconducting, are starting to migrate from solar panels into the building materials themselves.

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Culturally sensitive robots are here to care for the elderly

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Humans are living longer, healthier lives. That’s great, but there’s a downside — the growing elderly population requires an entire industry of (expensive) caregivers, and we’ll likely need even more of them in the future.

Care robots might be able to do some of that work. Researchers suspect robots could help elderly people with everything from staying active to remembering their medications. Now researchers in Europe and Japan are working to make sure those robots don’t offend the people they’re supposed to take care of — they’re making what they say are the world’s first robots with a sense of cultural norms.

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Research team develops the world’s first-ever 4-D printing for ceramics

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A research team at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has achieved a groundbreaking advancement in materials research by successfully developing the world’s first 4-D printing for ceramics, which are mechanically robust and can have complex shapes. This could turn a new page in the structural application of ceramics.

Ceramic has a high melting point, so it is difficult to use conventional laser printing to make ceramics. The existing 3-D-printed ceramic precursors, which are usually difficult to deform, also hinder the production of ceramics with complex shapes. To overcome these challenges, the CityU team has developed a novel “ceramic ink,” which is a mixture of polymers and ceramic nanoparticles. The 3-D-printed ceramic precursors printed with this novel ink are soft and can be stretched three times beyond their initial length. These flexible and stretchable ceramic precursors allow complex shapes, such as origami folding. With proper heat treatment, ceramics with complex shapes can be made.

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Can 3D printed homes solve the urban housing crisis?

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Building houses is massively wasteful. During the construction process, building projects accumulate giant piles of garbage from off-cuts of lumber and drywall to pallets that carry materials and the packaging they come in. And once operating, homes consume huge amounts of energy.

“It turns out if you triage the world and you ask where are all these ecological health issues coming from, you get a surprising answer,” Jason Ballard, co-founder and president of ICON, says. “It’s not the gas guzzling SUVs and private jets; it’s buildings, especially homes. They are the number one consumer of energy by sector and the number two user of water.”

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Bose’s new $250 Sleepbuds play soothing sounds instead of music

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Is quality sleep worth that much cash?

After a couple years of development and early prototype testing through an Indiegogo campaign, Bose is commercially releasing its noise-masking Sleepbuds. They go on sale tomorrow, June 21st, for $250 from Amazon, Best Buy, Bose, and other retailers. The Sleepbuds are truly wireless earbuds designed to stay in your ears overnight. As you go to sleep, they play audio tracks that drown out typical evening disturbances like street noise, loud neighbors, or a snoring partner.

They don’t play music or any other audio from external devices. Period. So forget about streaming Spotify, audiobooks, or podcasts. Nor do the Sleepbuds utilize Bose’s incredible noise-cancelation tech that’s the magic ingredient in products like the popular QuietComfort headphones.

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Smart speakers are becoming so popular, more people will use them than wearable tech products this year

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Smart speaker users will reach 76.5 million by 2020, according to the latest eMarketer forecast.

The average smart speaker user is still an older, millennial male, but the devices are gaining traction with younger, Gen X women with kids.

Amazon Echo is the most popular, but is losing share. Google Home will likely slow Echo’s growth.

Smart speaker adoption has been so strong, US adult users will surpass wearable users this year.

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