Future tech: Robot cars, smart shirts and real-time translation

A robotic car with no steering wheel from Google. A 3D-printable robotic kit from Intel. Here are some quick hits on talk about the future of tech.

• Google has a prototype self-driving electric car with no steering wheel or pedals, as Brandon Bailey wrote. The company is testing the cars, whose top speed is 25 mph,  but has no plans to sell them soon. Google co-founder Sergey Brin said at the Code Conference Tuesday that the autonomous car “project is about changing the world for people who are not well-served by transportation today.” He reportedly brought up Uber as a possible partner.

• Could Intel get in early on a tech trend instead of having to play catch-up like it has with mobile? CEO Brian Krzanich, who said “we missed the tablet, we missed that transition,” talked today at Code about both a robotic kit and a smart shirt.

People with about $1,600 to spare could 3D print a robot named Jimmy, and customize it by downloading apps that allow it to perform certain tasks. “It’s like a smartphone with legs,” Intel futurist Brian David Johnson reportedly said.

As for the wearable shirt — aren’t they all — it has sensors that can detect heart rates and other vital signs. It will be available starting this summer.

• And from Microsoft, real-time language translation when talking on Skype. It’s a small world after all, and Microsoft’s Gurdeep Pall, corporate vice president of Skype and Lync, refers to the offering as part of the company’s “journey to break down another barrier to human productivity and connection.” New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said Tuesday at Code that Skype Translator will be available in beta sometime this year.


Photo: An artistic rendering of Google’s self-driving car. (Google via Associated Press)

Levi Sumagaysay Levi Sumagaysay (4265 Posts)

Levi Sumagaysay is editor of the combined SiliconBeat and Good Morning Silicon Valley. She also helps take care of SiliconValley.com, the Mercury News tech website. Email: lsumagaysay@bayareanewsgroup.com