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With Project Titan being Cancelled, Apple's Crystal Ball Points to developing Home Robotics (Yawn!)


The reported shut down of Project Titan was a disaster for Apple's reputation as a great innovator. It was a project that was 10+ years in development and has little to nothing to show for the billions invested. Apple could have worked with BYD or Hon Hai to provide the basic foundation of an EV while  providing advanced electronics to take EV vehicles to the next level without having to charge consumers $100,000 per vehicle.  

Now, according to Bloomberg, Apple Inc. has teams investigating a push into personal robotics, a field with the potential to become one of the company’s ever-shifting “next big things." While one Apple patent pointed to robotic systems beyond Project Titan, it never touched on anything for the home.

Patent trends tend to show where Apple could be going, and to date, there's hasn't been much on the robotics front, save for a long-shot drone project. That could be of interest to those that want to take great aerial videos or stills in their city or when on they're on vacation. It would be a niche device, far from the Next-Great Thing.  

According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, "Engineers at Apple have been exploring a mobile robot that can follow users around their homes. The iPhone maker also has developed an advanced table-top home device that uses robotics to move a display around.

The robotics work is happening within Apple’s hardware engineering division and its AI and machine-learning group, which is run by John Giannandrea. Matt Costello and Brian Lynch — two executives focused on home products — have overseen the hardware development. Still, Apple hasn’t committed to either project as a company, and the work is still considered to be in the early research phase. 

The table-top robotics project first excited senior Apple executives a few years ago, including hardware engineering chief John Ternus and members of the industrial design team. The idea was to have the display mimic the head movements — such as nodding — of a person on a FaceTime session. It would also have features to precisely lock on to a single person among a crowd during a video call.

Near its campus in Cupertino, California, Apple has a secret facility that resembles the inside of a house — a site where it can test future devices and initiatives for the home. Apple has been exploring other ideas for that market, including a new home hub device with an iPad-like display.

Apple investors reacted coolly to the news, with the stock paring earlier gains after Bloomberg reported on the robotics work. It was up less than 1 per cent at $169.51 as of 3:20 p.m. in New York. Shares of iRobot Corp., maker of the Roomba robot vacuum, jumped as much as 17 per cent." To read a lot more on this report, check it out at BNN Bloomberg in full.

Maybe it's me, but this direction into home robotics seems a little flakey. Before taking on another "major project," Apple should reinvigorate their base with an affordable book-like foldable iPhone, a foldable hybrid iPad-notebook, XR Smartglasses, a glass iMac and killing the iPhone notch for starters.

Apple acquired "Lighthouse AI" that could eventually advance HomePod devices to double as an in-home security systems. That was four years ago and nothing of the kind has even been rumored to date. Apple seems to be stuck and happy to just update products at a snails pace.

Apple is now going full tilt in acquiring AI companies to play catch-up with Google and Microsoft and to get a foot in the Home Robotics market would likely mean acquiring a major company in that arena just to get started. 

Apple's EV was the great next thing and it's reportedly dead. So of course Apple investors reacted coolly to the news of home robotics, it sounds like a boring project with little upside.  

Agree or disagree? Send in your comments about this rumor. 

10.0F0B - Rumors


Thanks for your feedback, Matt.

On your last point regarding Project Titan, I must say there's a part of me that thinks the same way.

“Apple seems to be stuck and happy to just update products at a snails pace.”

Well, the company did finish and release Apple Vision Pro. It’s obviously resource hungry category, so it might have had some sort of an impact on other Apple products.

Additionally, and I’m not making excuses for Apple, many critics and pundits seem to have forgotten about the impact the pandemic had on large companies like Apple.

It’s going to take some time to get back up to speed, I’m afraid, but Apple will get there.

In the meantime, and on top of AVP and as you’ve reported, Apple has acquired more AI companies than Google or Meta or Microsoft. They’re laying the brickwork and we’re already seeing the benefits trickling into existing Apple experiences and products.

Further, I’m not convinced Apple killed off their EV initiatives. I don’t doubt some aspects have been halted altogether or put on hold, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn at a some point that Apple only dialed back the program rather than 86’d it.

We’ll see.

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