Can Rabbit R1 Bring AI-powered Devices to the Masses?

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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The Rabbit R1, a new generative AI-connected device, offers voice and chat interaction with Perplexity AI.
  • Priced at $199, it performs various tasks including internet searches, music playback, note-taking, translations, and image generation and is equipped with a touch display, push-to-talk button, and conversational interface.
  • It can also use a Large Action Model (LAM) to integrate with third-party apps like Spotify and DoorDash and use its camera to to identify objects in the real world.
  • While not revolutionary, Rabbit R1 hints at future possibilities for AI-powered devices in competition with smartphones.

When it comes to personal devices, smartphones are the king. In the U.S. alone nine-in-ten people own a smartphone.

However, an emerging class of generative AI-connected devices is aiming to unseat the traditional dominance of the smartphone.

A personal AI assistant in your pocket? Following on from the much-criticized Human AI Chip, the startup Rabbit has launched the Rabbit R1, a physical device retailing at $199 which users can interact with via voice inputs and chat directly to Perplexity AI.

The Rabbit R1 provides an artificial intelligence powered solution for searching the internet, playing music, taking notes, conducting translations, and even generating images — all through talking to the device or using the in-built camera to ask questions about the world around you.

The R1 features a 2.88-inch touch display, push-to-talk button, conversational interface,  360-degree rotational eye, an analog scroll wheel, built-in keyboard, USB-C port, SIM card slot, and a 2W speaker. It also comes with 4GB of memory and 128GB of storage.

Early reviews trend to the positive, although many reviewers point out that they are natural early adopters of the technology, and that their enjoyment of the device might not carry over to the masses.

But is this device to unseat the smartphone? The short answer is no, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t fill a rabbit-sized gap in the market.

What You Can Do with a Rabbit R1

First and foremost, the Rabbit R1 provides a medium to interact with a large language model (LLM). Whether you want to ask questions to Perplexity AI, find out the weather, take notes, translate, or create images – you can do so with the R1.

But what makes the R1 particularly interesting is that it can be taught how to use third-party apps, including Spotify, Uber, and DoorDash. The R1 uses Rabbit OS, an operating system built on top of both an LLM and a large action model (LAM) — which is geared towards processing instructions in natural language and forwarding them on to third-party apps.

Essentially, Rabbit OS enables users to create personalized agents to perform tasks elsewhere — for instance, Rabbit users can book an Uber with a quick voice command, or order products from DoorDash, all without opening a browser and carrying out the steps manually.

Another interesting capability is Vision, which can provide the user with any information about which objects are in the camera’s field of view. The results are pretty impressive, as demonstrated by Unbox Therapy on Youtube.

 

While these capabilities are useful, there are a lot of things the Rabbit Ra cannot do, which will have you reaching for your other pocket.

More specifically, the R1 can’t send texts or make calls, nor can it send emails. These limitations significantly reduce its utility when compared to a smartphone — but maybe the point of the device is not to compete with the smartphone, and it offers enough functionality to become a pretty compelling device in its own right.

Where Do AI-Powered Devices Fit Into the World Of Personal Devices?

When considering the Rabbit R1’s reception, it’s important to consider the broader market for AI-driven devices, such as the Humane AI chip, which is also connected to an LLM.

Yigit Ihlamur, ex Google, co-founder and general partner at Vela Partners, an AI-native venture capital firm, told Techopedia: 

“LLMs are changing how we interact with computing devices. The user interfaces we use today will soon be outdated. There will be less clicking and tapping, and more talking and writing. This interaction model will naturally shift how personal computing devices evolve.

 

“Devices such as Rabbit R1 will challenge smartphones, because incumbents, though they have a wealth of resources, will struggle to be creative while managing bureaucracy, risk and public scrutiny.”

Ihlamur points out that even established vendors like Apple are considering the impact of LLMs, and how they can be connected to the iPhone to capitalize on new opportunities.

Yet leveraging generative AI at this stage is easier said than done. One of the core problems is that generative AI has a lot of limitations, most notably its tendency to hallucinate information.

At the same time, voice recognition can be woefully inconsistent at interpreting and responding to inputs. For example, many critics criticized the Humane Ai Pin for failing to respond to verbal inputs correctly and having delayed responses.

That said, the Rabbit AI seems to be getting a warmer reception — able to have context-driven conversations, and being generally accurate and information-packed with its answers.

As Unboxing Terapy showed in the video above, having long conversations about basketball teams, or even answering what breed of dog was in front of the camera, happened speedily and accurately.

So if you can find a use for the Rabbit, it does what it says on the tin.Is it in any way a replacement for the smartphone, or a device for the masses? We suspect not — but for early adopters and tech enthusiasts, it is another way to bring AI into the world.

Rough around the edges, and probably closer to a sneak preview of what our smartphones will be doing as AI gets more integrated into them, but it doesn’t stop it carving out its own niche.

For this reason, the Rabbit R1 appears best suited as a supplementary device for those who want to experience easier access to AI models and to cut down on screentime.

The Bottom Line

LLM-connected devices aren’t on track to replace the smartphone anytime soon.

In any case, the Rabbit R1 and the Human AI Chip have brought some interesting ideas to the table that may help this device category to become a more potent competitor in the future.

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