Scottish Supermarket Fires Robot Employee for Scaring Customers

iStock
iStock

Fear not, grocery clerks: Robots probably aren't going to be coming for your jobs anytime soon, judging from one machine's abrupt hire-and-fire in Edinburgh, Scotland. According to the Daily Record, Fabio, the shopbot robot, was canned after just one week on the job because he wasn't clicking with human patrons.

Fabio was recruited to work at Scottish supermarket Margiotta's flagship store as part of the BBC's Six Robots & Us, a TV program/experiment designed to gauge how useful humans find robots. The bot was programed to greet customers with hugs and flattery ("Hello, gorgeous") and guide them to various products.

Ultimately, though, Fabio lacked both the personality and nuance of a real-life employee. Background noise hampered his ability to understand specific requests, and at times his directions were correct but unhelpful; when asked where the beer was, for example, he'd reply, "It's in the alcohol section." His sales abilities were also lacking: When providing patrons with pulled pork samples, Fabio handed out samples to two patrons every 15 minutes, whereas his human colleagues managed to charm 12 customers into accepting the freebies.

Margiotta's owners thought that Fabio would enhance visitors' in-store experience, but they soon noted that they were actually avoiding the 'bot. They eventually caved, and informed the robot that his services would no longer be needed.

Shoppers may have felt relieved over Fabio's abrupt retirement, but staffers reportedly mourned his loss: While packing the machine up, one clerk actually began crying. They'd grown fond of him, plus he'd helped them dodge redundant requests from patrons—even if he wasn't so great at helping the actual customers themselves.

[h/t Daily Record]

Google Translate Now Lets Your Smartphone's Camera Read 13 More Languages in Real Time

iStock.com/nazar_ab
iStock.com/nazar_ab

Your days of lugging around foreign-language dictionaries while traveling are behind you. As VentureBeat reports, Google Translate's in-app camera now recognizes 13 new languages, including Arabic, Hindi, and Vietnamese.

In 2015, the Google Translate app launched a feature that allows users to translate written text in real time. All you need to do to use it is to tap the app's camera icon and point your phone at the words you wish to decode, whether they're on a menu, billboard, or road sign. Almost immediately, the app replaces the text displayed on your camera with the translation in your preferred language.

The tool initially worked with 27 languages and Google has introduced more over the past few years. With the latest additions, Google Translate now recognizes about 50 languages.

Many of the new languages now compatible with Google Translate—including Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Thai—are widely spoken in South Asia. Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, and Punjabi are four of the 10 most common languages on Earth.

Google Translate users can download the new update now for iOS and Android phones.

[h/t VentureBeat]

Mountable Laserlight Projector Creates a Personal Bike Lane for Cyclists

Beryl, Kickstarter
Beryl, Kickstarter

All the blinking lights and reflectors in the world aren't enough to prevent your bike from disappearing into a truck's blind spot. But what if you could extend the length of your bike by an 20 extra feet with the click of a button? That's the concept behind the Laserlight Core, a product currently raising funds on Kickstarter, Fast Company reports.

Laserlight resembles a small flashlight, and it attaches easily to the front of your handlebars. When biking, you can switch it on to project a laser image of a green bike symbol onto the street several yards in front of you. If the driver of a van, truck, or bus can't see your actual bike in their mirror, the idea is that the light will make them aware of your presence. The projection is about the width of a bike lane, so it may also encourage drivers to give cyclists more road space than they would have otherwise. According to an independent study on the light from Transport for London, bikers with Laserlight are about 97 percent visible at night to drivers in vans (compared to 65 visibility with a standard LED light).

Emily Brooke came up up with the concept seven years ago as a design student at England's University of Brighton. After a frighteningly close encounter with a van while biking, she wondered if she could invent a way to get the attention of drivers even when she was stuck squarely in their blind spots.

Her product, originally dubbed Blaze, launched on Kickstarter in 2012. The campaign was a success, and now she's returning to the crowdfunding platform with a new-and-improved version of the item. Laserlight Core is easier to mount than its predecessor and it also projects a clearer image. You can reserve yours with a pledge of $75 or more with shipping estimated for December of this year. (It makes a great gift for the dedicated cyclist in your life, too.)

[h/t Fast Company]

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