Apple’s next big thing could be… an iRobot?

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Macworld

A new report from Mark Gurman at Bloomberg claims that Apple is working on home robotics projects as a potential new growth area. After the years-long Apple Car project was killed earlier this year, and with Apple Vision Pro out on the market and future versions in the pipeline, the company has to start experimenting with new products in entirely new areas in order to keep growing.

Gurman’s report says that the company has skunk-works projects involving home robotics. There are two experimental projects identified in the report: one is a “mobile robot that can follow users around their homes” and the other is “an advanced table-top home device that uses robotics to move a display around.” That second one just sounds like a HomePod with a display that rotates and tilts to face you in the frame as you move around the room, if you ask me. It is allegedly much further along than the mobile robot and has been added to and removed from Apple’s product roadmap for years.

The robotic home display project would apparently have features like “nodding” to go along with movements and gestures of someone you’re having a FaceTime call with, or locking on to a user in a crowded room. While it supposedly excited managers early on, it has been met with technical challenges and Apple execs have been in disagreement about whether or not to produce the product at all–whether there would be demand for something that carries its premium cost.

Work on the mobile robot is apparently in very early stages, and like other projects within Apple has sprung out of research originally done as part of Apple’s car project. Original concepts included some pie-in-the-sky capabilities like being able to wash dishes–which is highly unlikely, but Apple does have several robotics jobs open on its careers site.

A word of caution: Apple and other big tech companies frequently work on potential future products that don’t ever become products. Some will use their R&D in other products, others will get shut down entirely. An Apple Bot is definitely not going to be announced this year, and if it does happen, it may be years from now.

Apple Inc

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