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Is this really Apple's next big thing?

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Amazon Astro Robot.
Amazon's astro robot for the home. Amazon / Amazon

After stopping work on the Apple Car, the tech giant is reportedly exploring new areas for its “next big thing.”

While developing an Apple car has always seemed overly ambitious, the latest suggestion is that the company may now be working on something less ambitious: “a mobile robot that can follow users around their home.”

The news comes from well-known Apple tipster Mark Gurman, who received the update from people familiar with the matter.

It's not clear whether Apple is targeting something fairly simple like Amazon's wheel-based Astro home robot – which can act as a security guard, deliver reminders, set up and view video chats, answer questions and run a few basic errands, among other things – or something much more advanced.

“One crazy idea Apple had was to do household chores like washing dishes in a sink,” Gurman wrote in his article for Bloomberg. “But this would require overcoming extraordinarily difficult technical challenges – something that is unlikely to happen this decade.”

He said Apple engineers had also developed “an advanced desktop device for the home that uses robotics to move a display.” Similar to Meta's defunct Portal device, this means that the display will mimic the participant's head movements – such as nodding – during a FaceTime call, for example, while also having the ability to move and address a single person in a group when they talk during a video call.

What's worth noting is that the idea of ​​a robotic smart display has reportedly been popular with Apple over the years, but with technologies like generative AI advancing rapidly, there may be renewed interest in a robotic display that AI smarts are now using can.

Work is said to be in its early stages, but like the Apple Car, there is no guarantee that these products will ever see the light of day. According to Gurman, key figures in Apple's hardware engineering department have not yet committed to either project.

He also revealed that Apple has a “secret facility” near its campus in Cupertino, California, designed to look like the inside of a house, where planned home devices are tried out.

It's still too early to say whether Apple CEO Tim Cook will one day unveil a small home robot, but the company's current call for robot specialists suggests it is seriously thinking about using the technology for future products.

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