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Android Creator Is Building AI Smartphone

By Victor Thomson , Jan 14, 2017 03:38 AM EST
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Andy Rubin, former co-founder of Android, is starting new company and planning to build new AI-equipped smartphone. (Photo : Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Andy Rubin, the creator of Android, is reportedly developing a premium AI-equipped smartphone with ceramic back and edge-to-edge display.

New Premium Smartphone

According to The Verge, Andy Rubin, co-founder of the Android operating system, is building out a new company called Essential and developing several new products including a premium AI smartphone. The edge-to-edge display lacks a surrounding bezel and comes with a ceramic back. According to Bloomberg, Rubin is preparing to formally announce and lead as CEO of the new tech startup.

He is planning several products, both for the smart home and in the mobile niche. One of the most important hardware products under development is a high-design smartphone meant to compete with the Google Pixel, Samsung's Galaxy S7, Apple's iPhone 7 and other flagship mobile devices. It is expected that Rubin will launch the premium smartphone in mid-2017, as he is already negotiating with Foxconn to manufacture it.

At least one prototype smartphone with a larger-sized display than that of the iPhone 7 Plus is developed by the company. However, due to its nonexistent bezels, the overall size is smaller than Apple's popular handset. The design reportedly features a ceramic back and metal edges.

The futuristic Mi Mix Android phone by Xiaomi is one of the first models o smartphones that utilized a ceramic back. This innovative design is a departure from the plastic, glass and metal materials found in the majority of mobile devices.

The upcoming phone developed by Rubin is also experimenting with a 3D Touch-like feature intended to make it possible to detect different levels of pressure when users touch the screen. The phone will even feature a modular component.

A proprietary connector will serve double duty for expanding the phone's functionality over time, as well as charging the battery. The magnetic connector would allow third parties or Essential in developing hardware accessories adding new features to the smartphone, including an add-on 360-degree camera.

It is still unclear how deeply the new smartphone will incorporate AI. However, it is well-known that publicly Rubin has argued that the next big mobile platform will facilitate people training AI systems to learn. Therefore, it is expected that AI features will be found through multiple Essential products.

New Company Essential

Rubin has already assembled a team of around 40 people, including former employees of Alphabet and Apple. The new company has already filled trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Essential, the company created by the man behind Google's Android platform, is preparing to pose yet another challenge to Apple's iPhone, according to Apple Insider. Essential Products Inc. was registered in Nov. 2015, in California.

Rubin has made artificial intelligence a major focus, since departing Google in 2014. He leads a startup fund/tech incubator called Playground Global. The startup fund is meant to help companies working to achieve advances in the AI field.

According to Rubin, in order for AI to advance, it has to be about data. And robotics can help the task since they are walking mobile sensors, able to sense their environment, learn and interact.

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