Taipei Stories February 11, 2014

Future iPhones could be built by Google robots on Foxconn production lines

In what would be a rather amusing twist, future iPhones could be built by Google robots as Google’s robotics division assists Foxconn to “speed up robot deployment” at its factories.

The WSJ reports that Foxconn was looking for assistance in automating its production lines, while Google is aiming to introduce robots to manufacturing processes that have so far been largely manual – electronics assembly being a key example. It takes around 600 people to make each iPhone.

Foxconn has been working with former Android executive Andy Rubin since last year to carry out the U.S. company’s vision for robotics.

To speed up robot deployment at its own factories, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou met with Rubin in Taipei recently and they discussed new robotic technologies, they said.

At the meeting, Gou expressed excitement over new automation technologies demonstrated by Rubin, they said. Rubin also asked Gou to help integrate a technology company that Google is acquiring as Foxconn’s strength lies in mechanical engineering.

Google has acquired eight robotics companies over the course of the past year, and is believed to have ambitions to create a robotic operating system that would be to manufacturing what Android is to smartphones. Foxconn is looking to reduce operating costs and boost efficiency.

“Foxconn needs Google’s help to step up automation at its factories as the company has the lowest sales per employee among the contract makers, given its large workforce,” said Wanli Wang, an analyst at CIMB Securities.

Taipei Stories August 29, 2012

Awesome cartoon-like gadget bags now shipping, prices start at $79 [Gallery]

This is not a cartoon bag. Seriously.

JumpFromPaper (perfect name, eh?) offers a line of handbags, profile bags, carrying pouches, etc., which look colorful and two-dimensional, and will hold an iPad, MacBook or just about anything else.

So, where did the idea come from?:

JumpFromPaper™ is a playful and innovative line of bags created by Taipei-based design duo, Chay Su and Rika Lin.

One cozy afternoon, the two girls were chatting, when they got to sketching their dream designer bag. A surprising idea popped up – “How amazing it would be if a two-dimensional hand-drawn illustration could come to life as a real bag!” They explored every possibility, rendering fantasy handbags in perspective, and giving birth to JumpFromPaper™.

Each bag boasts a cartoon-like outline and vivid colors that are sure to mess with folks’ eyes. Prices range from $79 to $129, and the Tropical Fish bag (top), in particular, is a gadget-targeted carrier sporting a slim, striped design with polyester fabric for just $79:

Topical Fish is your new protector for your gadgets. This carry pouch perfectly holds your netbook, iPad/tablet, or whatever other accessories you need for a day in the office or fun in the sun. Are they real? Yes they’re real. Although slim in appearance, each JumpFromPaper™ bag has a roomy interior to accommodate an iPad/tablet, book, magazines, and your everyday accessories. A zipper bottom expands the bag for extra room.

Pre-ordered Tropical Fish bags began shipping Aug. 27, and we hope to get our hands on a review unit soon. Check out JumpFromPaper to see what else the brand offers.

The full press release is below.

Taipei Stories March 28, 2012

With all the controversy surrounding Apple’s supply chains abroad, Foxconn, one of Apple’s biggest partners responsible for assembling the majority of its products, has received the brunt of criticisms. We already know what the Taipei-based assembler thought about Mike Daisey’s fabrications of working conditions at Foxconn plants, but today we get another first hand account from an actual Foxconn employee.

A report from China Business News (via MIC Gadget) profiled Foxconn worker and iPad assembler Wang Xiaoqiao (who opted to hide his real name). According to Wang, iPad line workers are beginning to work fewer hours and get more days off as supply meets demand. Wang said iPad production was ramped up in March, bringing assembly time from 10 hours a day down to 8 hours. However, he is not happy about working less. Wang explained:

expand full story

Taipei Stories March 19, 2012

Foxconn seems to be happy about the news late last week that Mike Daisy’s monologue about his Foxconn ‘findings’ was mostly fabricated from news reports.

In a statement to Businessweek, Louis Woo, spokesman for Taipei-based Foxconn said:

“I am happy that the truth prevails, I am glad that Mike Daisey’s lies were exposed. But I don’t think that the reports about this have gone far enough to find out what exactly is the truth. People will have the impression that Foxconn is a bad company, so I hope they will come and find out for themselves,”

Daisey was exposed via an NPR reporter that contacted his translator Cathey Lee who denied just about every part of Daisey’s story. Daisey, for his part, responded:

I stand by my work. My show is a theatrical piece whose goal is to create a human connection between our gorgeous devices and the brutal circumstances from which they emerge. It uses a combination of fact, memoir, and dramatic license to tell its story, and I believe it does so with integrity. Certainly, the comprehensive investigations undertaken by The New York Times and a number of labor rights groups to document conditions in electronics manufacturing would seem to bear this out.

Daisey has been forced to stop his show but did receive a standing ovation following its last performance this weekend.

Critics of Foxconn say that they aren’t off the hook.

Update: Daisy has a new blog post out with this: expand full story

Taipei Stories May 31, 2011

More trouble in Microsoft land as Bloomberg reports that Microsoft device manufacturers are complaining about the software giant’s meddling in their affairs:

Microsoft Corp.  is putting “troublesome” restrictions on makers of processors used to run the coming Windows tablet-computer operating system, Acer Inc.  Chairman and Chief Executive Officer J.T. Wang said.

“They’re really controlling the whole thing, the whole process,” Wang said at the Computex trade show in Taipei without identifying the restrictions. Chip suppliers and PC makers “all feel it’s very troublesome,” he said.

Can you even imagine a PC manufacturer standing up to Microsoft publicly in a pre-iPad world?  While Acer is moving to Google for many of their tablet products, and even ChromeOS for one of their notebooks, Acer is still one of the three biggest Windows PC manufacturers on the planet and of course is expected to make Windows 8 slatesexpand full story

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