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Innovative Technologies Forged in AT&T’s Foundry

May 17, 2015 - Written By Lucius Bossio

 

AT&T recently invited press to an event at its New York headquarters to show off some novel hardware and software they have been developing under the radar. Somewhat similar to Google’s ATAP division, AT&T’s Foundry is responsible for coming up with outside of the box applications and improvements for already existing technologies. The results are products that leverage technology in ways never seen before to simplify our everyday lives. Let’s take a closer look at three products AT&T will hopefully be rolling out to consumers in the near future.

Any parents in the audience will be very excited by Project Car Seat (see YouTube video below). Developed by AT&T’s Foundry in Texas, Project Car Seat is essentially a small box that turns your vehicle into a smart, connected car. The original impetus behind its creation were numerous news outlets reporting children being left inside cars on very hot days, though the project has taken on a life of its own and extends far beyond the inspiration that started it. The car seat contains sensors that detect CO2, heat, and motion, and connects directly to a parent’s smartphone in order to notify them of the internal conditions of their vehicle. Beyond that Project Car Seat also contains sensors that can be used to remind you where you parked, notify you when a maintenance check is needed, act as a Wi-Fi hotspot, and even entertain passengers. The prototype demoed by AT&T is still in development so its design is not final, but it can attached to a standard car seat quite easily.

The next product, Sound Safari, is designed to be an all-in-one solution for home monitoring (see YouTube video below). Smart home products are not new, however, to fully take advantage of existing home monitoring devices consumers need to purchase and set up a plethora of devices containing all manner of sensors. Sound Safari aspires to simplify this process by leveraging machine learning to recognize a wide range of sounds commonly found in the home from the doorbell, to footsteps, running water, boiling water, a smoke alarm, dog barking, or doors unlocking. Once Sound Safari detects a sound it will notify homeowners in order to keep them in the know when they are not at the house. Since Sound Safari relies on acoustic recognition it can be used to detect a much wider range of events in the home than a device with specific sensors, add in machine learning capabilities and the possibilities are endless. Because Sound Safari utilizes machine learning it could be applied in many environments outside the home, such as offices, cars, and industrial settings.

Lastly is a joint project with UC Berkley called SmartBay; a solution to help manage traffic in the San Francisco Bar Area. Anyone who lives in a large metropolis, or works in a city’s planning office, is aware of the harsh reality that is city traffic. As more people are moving into urban areas this is a growing problem that threatens to diminish the productivity and living standards of citizens in modern cities. SmartBay collects anonymous smartphone data from its users, which is then analyzed and used to improve urban planning and deal with daily traffic problems. On the planning end of the spectrum things like where to build new parking lots, or how a new development will affect local traffic, can be surmised from SmartBay. Although it is an interesting project AT&T isn’t planning on making it a public product. The technology will compete directly with crowdsourced mapping and traffic apps such as the popular Waze app, though users would have to give AT&T permission to hoover up their data – make of that what you will.

These technologies are merely a taste of some of the products AT&T is currently developing and researching. It is easy to forget AT&T is the 23rd largest company in the world, they have more than enough resources to develop newfangled products that could have a major impact on the lives of consumers. We are glad AT&T finally gave us a glimpse of what they are working on behind closed doors. They are certainly developing some interesting products that we hope to see come to market in the near future.