Twitter-Beyond 280 Characters; Amazon Fully Auto Warehouse Robot; Toyota & Redwood Partner-Battery Recycling; Alexa Reads in Grandma’s Voice

After expanding from 140 characters to 280, now Twitter is apparently looking at vastly more characters…but not on the main app. Android Police reports that Twitter has announced Notes, a brand new feature currently in testing with a select group of writers. The idea behind Notes is simple: with newsletters now more popular than ever, pivoting into full-on blogging — while keeping the 280-character limit for the bulk of the site — should bring a new audience to Twitter without shedding what makes it unique in the first place. Each Note is tied to your Twitter account, with your handle and username filling in for the usual byline. It supports photos, embedded tweets, paragraphs, text formatting (like bold and italics), and more, bringing it in line with the likes of WordPress and other blogging platforms. This should let bloggers use the reach of their Twitter account to lure people to their longer form blogs. 

Amazon has announced its ‘first fully autonomous mobile robot.’ According to theverge.com, it is intended to move large carts around its warehouses. The robot is named Proteus. Amazon claims it can safely navigate around humans in the warehouses…something that has been beyond present robots. The current crop of bots has to be kept in a separate, caged area. Amazon also announced several other robotic systems. One, called Cardinal, is a robotic arm that can lift and move packages weighing up to 50 pounds, which Amazon hopes to deploy in warehouses next year. The company says that its computer vision systems let it pick out and lift individual packages, even if they’re in a pile. The company has said  “replacing people with machines is just a fallacy” that could lead to a company going out of business. This was pointed out by the head of Mercedes-Benz over 2 decades ago, when they brought automation to their car manufacturing plants. The CEO at the time said Mercedes would use robots ‘to save backs, not replace hands.’ They believed the human touch was a crucial factor in their success. 

The battery packs in electric vehicles are one of the most, if not the most expensive components in an EV. Then there is the issue of what to do when they have run their course. According to theverge.com, Toyota is partnering with Redwood Materials, a company of Tesla co-founder JB Straubel to collect and recycle old batteries. They will take the worn out batteries, and refurbish them or break them down so the materials can be used in new batteries. 

Because we haven’t had a creepy story in a while, it’s time for one again. Techcrunch.com reports that soon, Alexa will be able to read stories in the voice of your dead Grandma! They have allegedly worked out new tech that can take just one minute of speech from Granny, and synthesize her voice to read a Grandchild a bedtime story. The feature was explained at Amazon’s annual re:Mars conference in Las Vegas. There is no timeline for it, and no more details, but it is an interesting (and creepy) use of technology. ‘Alexa, read Junior ‘Charlotte’s Web’ in Dead Grandma’s voice. 



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