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Simpson Grierson's Louise Taylor on augmenting the human experience, getting really in-touch with emotions, robots hugging toward global domination and, er, queuing up for you, NZ's driverless loophole and more

Simpson Grierson's Louise Taylor on augmenting the human experience, getting really in-touch with emotions, robots hugging toward global domination and, er, queuing up for you, NZ's driverless loophole and more

Today's Top 10 comes from Louise Taylor, commercial senior associate at Simpson Grierson, with an interest in emerging technologies.

As always, we welcome your additions in the comments below or via email to

And if you're interested in contributing the occasional Top 10 yourself, contact

See all previous Top 10s here.

1.   Augmented humans

Spectacles, hearing aids and prosthetic limbs are early examples of how we have been augmenting the human experience. While in those examples the augmentation allows the wearer to have a 'normal' human experience, the rapid rise of augmented technology now has unprecedented potential for new day-to-day human experiences.

Take Neil Harbisson, for example, who wears an antenna that allows him to 'hear colour'.   

2.  Artificial Intelligence

Elon Musk thinks we will become like pets to Artificial Intelligence unless we add a digital layer of intelligence to our brains. Sounds kooky, but nanotechnologists have already been working on a way to blur the distinction between electronic circuits and neural circuits.

3. Artificial EQ

Researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have developed a device called "EQ-Radio" that can detect emotions remotely. The device is 87% accurate at detecting whether a person is excited, happy, angry or sad—all without on-body sensors or facial-recognition software. The researchers are hoping this will be the next step in developing computers that can understand us better at an emotional level and improve robot-human interactions.

4.  Southern Hemisphere's first social robot

Meet Chip Candroid, a 170cm tall humanoid robot which can recognise human emotion, speaks nine language and give hugs. Chip is owned by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which has partnered with shopping centre owner Stockland, and a social robotics team at the University of Technology Sydney, to conduct robotics and AI experiments. The research will look at opportunities and limitations in human-robot interaction, including the extent to which people are willing to engage with robots.

Social robots are already being developed for use in trade shows and there are predictions that these smart machines will have the potential to take over even sophisticated, traditionally 'human' tasks and roles. Social robots…taking over the world one hug at a time…

5.  Robots can queue for you

Hate queuing? Get a robot to do it for you.

One hundred robots queued up outside tech stores in Auckland to hold the place of Apple customers wanting to get their hands on a new iPhone 7.  Each robot, manufactured by Chinese company Ubtech, was paired with a Spark customer, who was able to control its actions using a smartphone app.  Unfortunately the robots are exclusive to Spark customers and are not available for sale in New Zealand.  Surely there is a massive untapped robot-queuing market out there?

6. Autonomous cars in NZ

Volvo, together with the New Zealand Traffic Institute, New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and the Ministry of Transport are set to conduct the first autonomous vehicle tests in New Zealand in November. The vehicle will be tested in Tauranga to assess how an autonomous vehicle will handle New Zealand's unique road conditions. 

In March, the Ministry of Transport released new guidelines aimed at encouraging international companies to trial their driverless vehicles and technology here. The MoT have highlighted that one of the key benefits of testing cars in NZ is that there is no explicit requirement in NZ law for a driver to be present in a car. The autonomous vehicle industry have got to be loving that loophole.

7. To Mahia and beyond

The Government has signed a contract authorising Rocket Lab to use Mahia Peninsula as a launch site. Rocket Lab is developing its rocket technology to maximise fuel efficiency and minimise cost of rocket launches.  This means that today's smaller satellites can be launched more frequently, in a more cost effective way, and with a minimal ecological footprint. See here for more.

8.  Space…the final frontier

China has switched on the world's largest radio telescope to search for signals from stars, galaxies and possibly extra-terrestrial life.

If they receive any ET signals, they should take heed of Stephen Hawking's warnings against seeking contact with alien civilisations. The astrophysicist has reiterated warnings from 2010 that alien life forms could be rapacious marauders in search of planets and resources to plunder. Just like humans will probably do if we find any planets out there worth pillaging.

9.  Snapchat's shot at wearables

Snapchat (now renamed Snap, Inc) is entering the wearables market by launching sunglasses with a built-in camera. The device will go on sale later this year for US$130, and will record up to 30 seconds of video at a time. Other glass-wearables have, in recent times, been hampered by the price tag and public perception, so it will be interesting to see whether the relatively modest cost and cooler look will appeal to a mass market of life loggers.

10. IoT attack

A recent DDOS (distributed denial of service) attack has highlighted the risk from IoT [internet of things] devices with inadequate security. Krebs on Security, a security research site, was taken offline by a massive DDOS attack launched by bombarding the site with 'junk data' from IoT consumer devices such as door locks, home routers and web cams. Commentators suggest that inadequate security combined with low consumer technical skill and constant connectivity mean that IoT devices can be hacked into for nefarious purposes.

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I met a man with a dollar. We swapped dollars and i still have a dollar.
Then i met a man with an idea. We swapped ideas and now i have two ideas.
(saw this on the internet)

The comment section is an exchange of ideas, that is why it is good and importand and essential it is not ruined by censorship.

Is it not time we took away decision making from our politicians and councillors and have computors make those decisions?

Computers can store more knowledge in their brain than humans
But more importantly, computers
Cannot be bribed
Do not have ideology biases
Do not indulge in crony capitalism
Do not follow the party line even if they disagree
And much more.

Skyscrapers in the City of London could soon be built by robots rather than by people, according to the boss of one of the UK’s biggest construction firms.


"The comment section is an exchange of ideas, that is why it is good and importand [sic] and essential it is not ruined by censorship." This only works if you are happy to accept that others may hold different ideas from you which you may not agree with or understand. Too many people are entirely too derogatory of the individual holding the idea rather than confining their comments to the merits or otherwise of that idea.


Education on the fallacies of argument might be more useful than censorship. It could go under the tools section on this site. With broad knowledge of the fallacies a comment section might even self police.


All this talk of Robots reminds me of the classic Not the Nine O'clock News clip at British Leyland car works.


What we need is a robot capable of rounding up the cows, and then milking them!
Or robots to attend class for us such that we can go surfing without wagging school...
How about visiting with the in-laws...?


cows can and are already milked by machines.


I just watched a video in which some good ideas came out

For example

Why don't large stores like Countdown, Pack N Save, Mire 10 and so on let the community use their large car parks at weekends for the likes of Farmers Markets, Car Boot sales and the like. This is getting involved with the community and draws lots of people to their shop.

Say you have a Pizza shop and need $100k to upgrade
The bank tells you "We will lend you $50k at 9% if you can raise the other $50k from your community.
The pizza shop then offers a deal to its customers
For every $100 you donate towards my loan i will give you a voucher for $150 worth of pizzas over the next 12 months. This is a 50% saving OR for every $100 you lend you get a voucher for $20 (peer to peer lending). A 20% return on your money

Businesses need to come up with new ideas


Also with people struggling to buy food why don't the large supermarkets in NZ set up a way to distribute their food waste.How much food does Pack N Save and Countdown throw out each day ?

What % is donated back to the community in need.……

Our Food for London campaign

What is the aim?

To redistribute surplus fresh food to tackle food poverty.

What are we doing?

We are backing the scale-up of our flagship charity — The Felix Project — which collects surplus produce from food suppliers and delivers it at no cost to a range of charities that provide meals or snacks for those in need, including the homeless, the elderly and those with mental health issues.

What is The Felix Project?

Founded by Evening Standard chairman Justin Byam Shaw and his wife Jane in memory of their son Felix, this start-up operates two vans from a depot in Park Royal. Currently they have two full-time employees, 21 volunteers, collect food from 12 suppliers — including Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Booker, Makro, Daylesford and CostCo — and deliver to 23 charities.

The scale-up

They plan to roll out their operation across the city. Funds raised will be used to buy more vans, open new depots, employ staff and recruit volunteers.

Funds raised

More than £800,000 so far from Citi, Sainsbury’s, Mark and Mo Constantine (co-founders of Lush), an anonymous hedge-fund boss, the Dispossessed Fund and The Felix Byam Shaw Foundation, which has agreed to match-fund money raised by our campaign for Felix with up to £750,000


>>> Why don't large stores like Countdown, Pack N Save, Mire 10 and so on let the community use their large car parks at weekends

Where do you live that the supermarket carparks are not so full on weekends that it's hard enough finding a bay safe enough to leave your car without some Maoris or white trash flinging open the doors of their POS people mover... or crashing their trolley... into your panels...
Short answer: because they're at capacity.

>>> Say you have a Pizza shop

Because the market for pizza wouldn't typically be interested, or have the free money, to invest in pizza bonds, and anyway it's not free to give away pizzas so how is that any different to the pervasive vouchers they already spam everywhere.