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Here’s some of the crazy tech AT&T is developing behind the scenes

by Jacob Kleinman | May 16, 2015May 16, 2015 1:00 pm PDT

Last week, AT&T invited TechnoBuffalo to its New York headquarters for a science fair of sorts. Researchers working for the company all over the world assembled in one room to show off the latest cutting edge hardware and software they’ve been developing in private. There was a lot to take in, and not much time to do it, but we managed to check out a few cool projects. Here are the three most exciting things we saw at AT&T’s Innovation Showcase.

Project Car Seat:

Developed at AT&T’s Foundry in Texas, this car seat attachment creates a direct line of communication between your smartphone and your vehicle. The inspiration actually came from news reports of children being left inside cars on particularly hot days, so it comes loaded with sensors for detecting CO2, heat and motion. However, that’s just a small fraction of what Project Car Seat can do.

“It connects your car to the rest of your digital life,” says Michael Albrecht, who currently leads the project.

Once Project Car Seat is installed it goes way beyond it’s original purpose. The same small box of sensors can remind you where the car is parked, text you when the vehicle needs a maintenance check, or entertain you on long drives. It even doubles as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

This project is still in development, so it’s unclear what exactly the final product will look like. The prototype we saw seemed to attach to a standard child seat without too much effort, making it easy to turn any regular old car into a smart vehicle.

Sound Safari:

Next up was Sound Safari, a futuristic home monitoring system based entirely on sound. The technology, which is based on acoustic intelligence, could turn your house into a smart home without needing to pack every appliance full of chips and sensors.

“Acoustic intelligence is machine to machine learning of sound and the ability to then detect them when the machine hears that sound,”explained Ruth Yomtoubian, Business Innovation Lead at the AT&T Foundry.

At home, Sound Safari could be programmed to recognize a range of sounds, including the doorbell, footsteps, running water, boiling water, a smoke alarm and a dog barking. For each noise, you could then receive a notification on your phone, letting you know what’s happening when you’re not there.

The same technology could also work in industrial settings or in a cars. For example, Sound Safari would be able to warn you when your car engine starts ticking and needs repairs before you ever notice something is wrong.

SmartBay:

Finally, there’s SmartBay, a collaboration between AT&T and UC Berkley to help solve traffic issues in the Bay Area. By collecting anonymous smartphone data and crunching the numbers, AT&T can help improve urban planning and even predict how to deal with daily road issues. In the long term, the information could help decide where to add more parking lots, or even how a new sports arena will affect local traffic.

The concept is pretty cool, though unfortunately AT&T isn’t planning to turn all that data into a public product. We could see the technology competing directly with crowdsourced mapping apps like Waze, though that would likely require asking each user to manually opt-in for tracking. Still, it’s an interesting look at what this kind of data can do at scale.

There were dozens of other projects to check out, and even more that didn’t make the trip to New York that day—we heard rumors of a smart-fridge that was nowhere to be seen. For even more info on interesting technology AT&T is working on, check out the Foundry website via the source link below.

AT&T Foundry

Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...

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