You Can Hire a Robot to Handwrite Your Thank-You Notes

Expressing gratitude is part of being a good grown-up. Hand cramps … not so much. Now you can enjoy one without suffering the other, thanks to the Bond company’s note-writing robot.

Sonny Caberwal founded Bond in 2013 as a high-end gift service. As an add-on, he allowed customers to include a hand-written note with each purchase. But Caberwal soon realized that the notes were more popular than the presents themselves. He spent the following year working with tech wizards, roboticists, and calligraphers to develop a robot that could cleanly, consistently, and beautifully replicate the look and feel of human handwriting.

To order notes, users open the Bond app, choose a handwriting style, type in a message and address, and go watch some TV while a robot does all the work.

The service has been immensely popular with tech and social media companies. “What I’ve realized is that it’s not about who actually wrote the note,” Bond investor Geoff Bernstein told Bloomberg Pursuits. “It’s about showing the recipient how you feel about them, or whatever your message is.”

Caberwal agrees: “Inconvenience doesn’t make something more thoughtful.”

Still worried your recipients will be able to tell someone else did the heavy lifting? For a cool $1500, Bond will digitize your handwriting, make you personalized stationery, and allow you to send up to 125 notes (postage included) over the course of a year.

[h/t Bloomberg Pursuits]

New Volvo Technology Will Keep You From Hitting a Deer (or Moose)

Rural drivers have more to watch out for on the road than stray cats. A run-in with a moose or deer could be deadly. Volvo, the Swedish car maker, has a high-tech answer, according to WIRED. The Volvo Large Animal Detection, available in some 2017 models, can detect animals approaching the road—even if the driver can’t.

The radar-based system works during the day and at night, unlike previous night-vision systems that can only work when it’s dark. The radar detects animal-like shapes and movements around the car, and cameras can identify them with certainty. If it senses an animal moving slowly from the side of the road toward the car, it will warn the driver; if the driver doesn't respond immediately, it will automatically put on the brakes. The intensity of the braking is based on where the animal is, how big it is, and where it’s headed, which means it won’t slam on the brakes if it spots a deer that’s already running away from the road.

Hitting a big animal like a moose—or even just a deer—isn’t something to take lightly. In the U.S., the Department of Transportation estimates that between 1 and 2 million cars collide with large animals each year, and up to 10 percent (26,000) of those collisions result in an injury to the driver—about 200 of which are fatal. Moose and elk are particularly dangerous to drivers. Even if you don’t get hurt, it can cost thousands of dollars to repair the vehicle damage from slamming into a big animal on the road—up to $4000 for a collision with a moose.

The technology is programmed specifically for the country where the car is sold, so Swedish cars are designed to detect moose and elk, while U.S.-bound cars are set up to locate deer. But it’s not perfect. It can’t help you avoid hitting Fido, and if the animal is hidden or if it’s out of range of the headlights at night, it won’t be able to detect it. A particularly speedy deer could get past it without detection, too.

Automated safety technology such as Volvo's can make a significant difference when it comes to car crashes. Tesla’s automated steering and braking technology has resulted in a 40 percent reduction in Tesla crashes. Self-driving cars might one day eliminate human error on the road completely, but until then, having an extra set of technological eyes on the road can make even traditional cars a little safer.

[h/t WIRED]

All images courtesy of Volvo.

Thomson Consumer Electronics
French Designers Invent Sleek, Squishy, Ergonomic Smartphone
Thomson Consumer Electronics
Thomson Consumer Electronics

Two French designers have taken futuristic smartphones to the next level. Their Alo phone is voice-activated, soft-bodied, and projects movies and messages as 3D holograms, because why not?

Voice-activated technology, once the stuff of science fiction, has become quite commonplace in recent years, controlling everything from our cars to our TV sets. The Alo, from accomplished designers Philippe Starck and Jerome Olivet, takes advantage of the science-fiction functionality—and a few others, as well.

The phone’s translucent body is soft and pliable, designed to rest comfortably in one hand. It also communicates by touch, growing warm or vibrating with message or phone call notifications. The gelatinous skin protects the phone’s aluminum inner core and can heal itself like a silicone cutting board.

Outgoing messages can be dictated rather than typed. Because the phone is almost entirely voice activated, it doesn’t need space for a keyboard, which keeps it streamlined while making room for other apparently necessary features, like 3D holograms.

The Alo is still in its conceptual phase. Starck and Olivet are working now to develop a prototype. They see their phone as the natural next step in our cyborg-like entanglement with our devices. "It is a true artificial intelligence," Olivet told Dezeen. "We can no longer separate from this device."

[h/t Dezeen]


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