We covered a wide spectrum of technology stories on IQ during 2017, ranging from home robots to flying cars. But what happened next? What became of the Kuri robot, Voke VR and the Lilium Jet? Read on and find out.
Back at CES 2017, robots were everywhere in the shape of tabletop bots like Jibo and more mobile automatons like the Mayfield Robotics Kuri.
Alexa meets a robo-vac?
The Kuri robot (pictured top) starts shipping in December 2017, a device that has evolved from a camera-equipped security robot to one designed for companionship. It can still roll around your house, mapping its environment with built-in lasers. But its talents are limited. Think of it as a $799 cross between an Amazon Echo and a Roomba, a 21st century take on Sony’s much-loved Aibo.
While we guessed that 2017 might be the year when home robotics started to have an impact, it’s now more likely that we’ll see home helpers in 2018. Then the big question is: will they be useful? Or at this stage, are they just an expensive tech toy looking for a reason to exist?
In October, we covered the Pimax 8K VR headset. The Kickstarter raised $4,236,618 from almost 6,000 eager backers, over double its $200,000 funding goal.
Virtual reality in 8K
While it’s been described as an 8K headset, it actually makes use of dual 4K LCDs. It’s still a significant performance boost, however. “The high-resolution 4K displays offered a noticeable upgrade in sharpness and clarity,” wrote Techcrunch, “though in terms of gameplay the field-of-view seemed to matter much more.”
That FOV is a wide-angle 200 degrees, much more than the 110 degrees delivered by the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. As to when you can buy this next-gen VR hardware… Originally due to ship in January 2018, expect a slight delay.
As for flying cars… We’ve looked at a fair few land/air vehicles on IQ, including the Terrafugia Transition, the AeroMobil roadster and the Pal-V Liberty Pioneer. But it’s the Lilium Jet that impressed us the most in 2017, less an aircraft you can drive and more a drone you can ride.
A future flying taxi?
Lilium secured an additional $90 million of funding in September. “The investment will be used for the development of the five-seat Lilium Jet,” said the company, “that will fly commercially, as well as to grow our current team of more than 70. In April we achieved a world first when the full size prototype successfully performed its most complicated manoeuvre — transitioning between hover mode and horizontal flight.”
If everything works as planned, the Lilium Jet will be able to travel at speeds of up to 300 km per hour, for one hour on a single charge. Propelled by 36 electric jet engines, it can take off and land vertically, transitioning smoothly into autonomous horizontal flight. This could well be what flying taxis look like come 2020.
Finally, we looked at Voke VR back in January when the company was acquired by Intel. Since then, it’s undergone a name change (becoming Intel True VR), while its clever, multi-camera pods have been deployed in stadiums to capture NFL, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball games.
Intel True VR
Download the Intel True VR app and, if you live in the US, you can watch real-time VR video via a headset, mobile device or web browser. With multiple camera pods typically available at sporting events, you can choose your own panoramic view, watch stats and instant replays, and immerse yourself in the game as if you were sitting in the crowd.
Find out more about Intel True VR here.