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LG’s new AI chip could turn your robot vacuum into your pet

LG’s working on new super chips for robots and smart home appliances that will see them working even without an Internet connection. 

The company unveiled the not-so-subtly named ‘AI Chip’ on Friday, and say it will come to future lines of LG robot vacuum cleaners, washing machines, refrigerators, and air conditioners.

Technical details on the AI Chip are thin on the ground, but LG says it will give smart devices significantly improved spatial awareness, image and object recognition and location mapping powers, versus than of competing AI hardware.

The AI Chip will also let devices better recognise different people’s voices and “physical and chemical changes in the environment.”

Related: Best robot vacuum cleaners 

LG promises that future appliances will be able to operate without a network connection, thanks to its Neural Engine technology. If your Internet service fails for whatever reason, you’ll still be able to talk to your vacuum cleaner, and it will still be able to communicate with your washing machine.

I.P. Park, president and CTO of LG Electronics, says that the chip is an opening step in a wider bid to improve LG’s products using artificial intelligence tech.

“Our AI C​hip is designed to provide optimised artificial intelligence solutions for future LG products,” Park said.

“This will further enhance the three key pillars of our artificial intelligence strategy – evolve, connect and open – and provide customers with an improved experience for a better life.”

LG isn’t alone in trying to leverage neural networks to offload computing processes from the cloud. Google recently announced that advances in speech recognition models allowed for Google Assistant to work even when offline.

Similarly, Huawei’s recent Kirin processors, which feature neural processing units, have seen cameras of phones like the Huwaei P30 Pro, able to recognise images without having to talk with a remote cloud server.

While neural networks and on-device AI is undoubtedly convenient, power-efficient, and fun, there are privacy implications to be considered. No-one wants a fridge that’s self aware enough to judge you for your dietary habits.

The rise of new AI technologies have caused concerns within both government and wider industry. Numerous technology icons, including Bill Gates, have warned about the possible danger AI poses humanity. The European Commission rolled out a series of laws AI technologies must adhere to earlier this year.

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