Swipe to sort: Using this robotic recycling system is like playing a game of Fruit Ninja

One promising outcome of job automation may see machines not simply taking our work, but instead making our work easier. There are countless necessary but undesirable jobs around. Wouldn’t it be nice if machines could make these tasks a little bit better?

A startup called Jodone is using gaming technology to do just that, beginning with a pilot project at the Pope/Douglas waste-to-energy facility in Alexandria, Minnesota. Where humans once  sorted through trash and picked out recyclable materials by hand, robotic arms will grab the valuable waste and place it a designated bin.

The robotic arms aren’t selecting items independently though. Across the facility, human workers watch waste roll down a conveyer belt and, using a touch screen, swipe paper, plastics, glass, aluminum, and tin items towards their respective spot on the screen. Then, back across the factory, the robots move the recyclables to their respective bins — a system that sees humans and machines working in harmony.

The click and swipe process used by Jodone was apparently inspired by Fruit Ninja: an immensely popular touch-screen game in which players use their fingers to slice up digital fruits. 

Jodone cofounder and CEO, Cole Parker, says the exercise allows workers to stay engaged without really dirtying their hands. “People like solving puzzles,” he told MIT Technology Review, “they like being mentally challenged.” Parker hopes the joint effort will be more interesting for workers and will generate additional profit as workers receive incentives for selecting and separating an above-average amount of recycling. The status estimates it can help generate $24 million in added revenue for waste facilities.

The system’s developers are currently creating an AI system that can learn from past swipes, to enable the software to identify valuable waste, according to MIT Technology Review. Though the robot will still need to wait for human approval, the system could be developed to perform the entire task independently. It seems this harmonious working relationship may not stand the test of emerging technology.

Emerging Tech

Check out this clever robot dishwasher, designed for busy restaurants

We've already witnessed robot wait staff and robot chefs working at restaurants. Now we have a high-tech robot dishwasher offering a fast, reliable, and environmentally friendly service.
Computing

Dive into the best VR experiences available now on the Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift brought back virtual reality and put a modern twist on it. Grab your Touch Controllers, put on your VR headset, and jump into the fun with some of the best Oculus Rift games available now.
Smart Home

Getting down to the nitty-gritty: The best vacuums you can buy

Our expert reviewers took some vacuum cleaners for a spin to see which worked best. Whether you're looking for a traditional upright, stick, or robot vacuum, check out our picks for the best vacuums on the market.
Mobile

Scam robocalls to hospitals could lead to a major health hazard

Robocalls can be an annoying waste of your time, but that can be a matter of life or death to a hospital. Scam robocalls are bombarding U.S. hospitals, with some centers losing hours of productivity as a result.
Emerging Tech

The grainy texture of Saturn’s rings reveals clues to their origins

New analysis of data from Cassini shows that Saturn's rings are not smooth, but rather are grainy in texture. Scientists believe that tiny moons within the rings cause materials to cluster and form clumps and straw-like patterns.
Emerging Tech

The Very Large Telescope gets upgrade to aid its hunt for habitable exoplanets

The Very Large Telescope is growing even bigger. The latest addition to the telescope's suite of instruments is a tool called NEAR (Near Earths in the AlphaCen Region) which will hunt for exoplanets in the nearby Alpha Centauri star…
Emerging Tech

Your smartphone could be the key to predicting natural disasters

A challenge for atmospheric scientists is gathering enough data to understand the complex, planet-wide weather system. Now a scientist has come up with a clever idea to gather more data using smartphones and Internet of Things devices.
Emerging Tech

Tormented robot pulls a gun on its creators in latest Boston Dynamics spoof

Boston Dynamics' remarkable robots often receive a good few shoves in its videos, and the eager mistreatment recently inspired a team of L.A.-based video artists to give its rather amusing take on the matter.
Smart Home

A new survey by Adobe shows an evolving market for voice applications

A new consumer survey conducted by Adobe Analytics has uncovered a growing desire for more diversity in voice-controlled applications and devices as well as growing engagement with voice ads.
Emerging Tech

Live long and prosper? Experimental compound could slow down the aging process

Want to extend your natural lifespan beyond its current limits? A metabolite of biomolecules — found in pomegranates of all places — could help slow the aging process. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Airbus’ new single-aisle jet has longest range in its class and a fancy cabin

Airbus has unveiled the design of its new A321XLR jet, an aircraft that it says will be capable of trips of around 5,400 miles, making it the world's longest range single-aisle airliner when it takes to the skies in 2023.
Computing

Google Calendar is back online. Here’s the latest on the outage

Google Calendar is down, and that means that instead of a day packed with back-to-back meetings and timely reminders, users are instead being treated to an error message. Here's the latest on the worldwide outage.
Emerging Tech

A tiny magnet accomplishes enormous feat, sets a new world record

A magnet housed in the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory has set a record for the strongest continuous DC magnetic field ever recorded. Here's why that matters to our future.
News

Brush up on your makeup skills with YouTube’s new augmented reality feature

YouTube will soon let users try on makeup while watching popular makeup tutorials through augmented reality. Viewers will be able to actually try on the makeup products the online tutorials are showcasing and promoting.