Cosy, a robotics startup, can track your position in 3D space with a camera

cosy 3d tracking mothers day grocery
Aleksandar Mijatovic
Three-dimensional depth tracking is a complicated problem without an easy solution. Solutions like Microsoft’s Kinect, Google’s Tango platform, and Leap Motion’s peripheral can pick out walls and other obstacles with the help of custom sensor arrays, but they aren’t exactly plug-and-play — short of some duct tape and a lot of coding, getting them to talk to a robot, smartphone, or other device is an ordeal.

But Cosy, a startup founded by University of Pennsylvania graduate Jonas Cleveland, might have the solution — a software framework that combines neural networking and indoor positioning to pinpoint the location of robots, smartphones, and more in three-dimensional space.

And unlike most positional tracking technologies, which rely on infrared sensors to orient objects in rooms and hallways, Cosy’s platform works on any device with a camera. “It doesn’t matter the platform — it works on fixed cameras” Cleveland said. “A lot of folks claim you’re not able to achieve [3D mapping] without using lidar, but we’ve done it. It’s all post processing.”

cosy 3d tracking resized
The robot generates a “point cloud” as it runs through the store doing inventory.

It’s a little like Snapchat’s Lenses, which use computer vision and augmented reality to lay digital objects on top of real-world environments. Cleveland wouldn’t spill the beans on Cosy’s tech, some of which is patent-pending. But if it’s anything like Lenses, it takes into account factors like rotation, occlusion, and more in real time.

Cosy is applying it to retail — specifically inventory management. Robots that are four-and-a-half feet tall robots (“about the size of a fourth grader,” Cleveland said) equipped with the startup’s software navigate the store aisles autonomously, taking note of the products on shelves. They relay that data to a central server, which updates the store’s inventory database.

Cosy sees it lightening human workloads. “We’re empowering humans to do other things,” Cleveland said. “People are not very good at tedious and mundane tasks. Inventory is incredibly labor intensive, and very inaccurate — humans hate doing inventory. We’re checking stock and seeing where items are located in the store through software, without human assistance.”

It might not be long before you see a Cosy-powered ‘bot at your local department store. The startup is in talks with three of the top twenty U.S. retailers to deploy the inventory-checking robots in the next year. And in the future, Cosy hopes to adapt the tech to smartphones — Cleveland envisions an app that directs customers to a particular section of a store, for example, or even an exact shelf.

“When you can map indoor space and all the objects, that solves a lot of problems,” said Cleveland.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

The Galaxy S10 may be announced before MWC, sell for up to $1,750

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.
Cars

Allegro.ai is helping Hyundai mine the artificial intelligence gold rush

In November 2018, Hyundai invested in a startup named Allegro.ai. We talked to the company's founder to learn more about what that means for consumers in the not-too-distant futures.
Mobile

New Apple Watch begins saving lives one week after getting EKG feature

The Apple Watch Series 4 was updated almost a week ago with a new feature that allows users to take electrocardiogram tests -- and already it seems like the new feature is saving lives.
Mobile

The best smartphone stocking stuffers for a very techy Christmas

If you've got a tech-loving smartphone enthusiast to buy for, we can help you out. Here's a selection of top phone accessories that would make amazing stocking stuffers so you can have a very Merry Christmas.
Product Review

The Black Shark gaming phone takes a big bite out of your free time, but the software sinks it

The world is being treated to an ever-increasing number of high-powered gaming phones. With so many great options already out, is there room for another? The Black Shark thinks so. But is it any good? We find out.
Mobile

OnePlus's 5G phone should arrive in May 2019, may cost up to $850

OnePlus will be among the first companies to put the new Snapdragon 855 processor into a phone, and will also release a separate and more expensive 5G phone in 2019 with the help of U.K. network EE.
Mobile

Santa Claus is coming to town. Get ready with these Christmas apps

Like it or not, Christmas comes but once a year. Thankfully, we've got a list of the best Christmas apps to help get you into the holiday spirit, just in case you want to call Santa or become a Christmas elf.
Gaming

Xiaomi’s Gamepad 2.0 turns the Black Shark into a mini Switch

Chinese phone manufacturer Xiaomi has introduced the Gamepad 2.0 for its Black Shark gaming phone that launched earlier this year. The new gamepad is similar to the Switch Joy-Con, with one piece attaching to each side of the phone.
Mobile

Google makes it easy to donate to charity straight through the Play Store

As we head into the holiday season, Google announced a new feature on Google Play that makes it a little easier to donate to charity. Through the new page, you'll be able to choose from a range of charities to donate to.
Deals

REI clearance sale extends discounts on Garmin, Fitbit, and GoPro devices

Beyond the things you typically expect to find at REI — like tents, skis, and jackets — there are tons of great deals on quality tech foryour outdoor adventures. From smartwatches to action cameras, here are the best tech deals.
Wearables

These are the best smartwatches for everything from fashion to fitness

Tempted to buy a smartwatch? If so, then the growing number of great models available means you've got plenty to choose from. But which one should you pick? Here is our list of the best smartwatches.
Mobile

Sprint’s 5G rollout: Everything you need to know

Sprint is building its next-gen 5G network in preparation for a 2019 rollout, but it's taking a decidedly different approach than some of its competitors, including Verizon and AT&T. Here's everything you need to know.