Rabbit r1 is a new pocket-sized device that allows us to use artificial intelligence to “do things” for us.
Its authors expected 500 pieces to be sold in the pre-order phase, and instead, already 30,000 devices have been pre-purchased by as many would-be users. We are talking about Rabbit r1, a strange orange device obviously “powered by AI” that costs $199 in the US and 185 euros in Europe. But what, really, is Rabbit r1 for?
Rabbit r1: what it looks like
Rabbit r1 is a small pocket-sized device: just 78x78x13 millimeters, for 115 grams. Inside is a 2.3 GHz MediaTek Helio P35 SoC, 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage space.
The device has a 2.88-inch touch TFT LCD screen, two microphones, an 8 MP camera, an analog wheel that is used to move around the user interface, along with a push-to-talk button, and a SIM card slot (4G).
Rabbit r1, in fact, does not require any connection to the smartphone (but still has BLuetooth 5.0 and WiFi), because via 4G LTE it connects on its own and, to be honest, without a connection it can do almost nothing, also because the built-in hardware is really modest.
What Rabbit r1 does?
Rabbit r1 is a kind of little box with a chatbot inside, but it does more than just a chatbot thrown at the smartphone: Rabbit r1 not only offers answers to questions, but also does things, executes commands. It is, in practice, a first practical application of the new generative artificial intelligences (such as ChatGPT and Bard) to the old digital assistants (such as Siri, Assistant and Alexa).
The user can ask Rabbit r1 to book an Uber, or to buy food at home, and the device will do so. The user can ask the Rabbit r1 to search and stream music, and the device will do so. The user can ask the device to generate text and photos, and the Rabbit will do so.
The user can also frame something with the camera, and the Rabbit will provide information about it, as if it were Google Lens, to understand. Rabbit can also act as a multilingual translator, it can provide information about a trip, it can be used to take notes by dictating with voice.
In the future, however, Rabbit r1 will also be able to reserve a table at a restaurant, buy tickets to events, and search for a point of interest in a specific area of the city.
Will Rabbit r1 replace the smartphone?
Many have pointed out that what Rabbit r1 can do is already possible via a smartphone, only with the Rabbit it is much simpler and more immediate. Basically, the Rabbit would be a more intuitive and easy-to-use human-AI interface, so it could in the long run replace the smartphone.
The great pre-sale success would also seem to confirm this fate, but in reality Rabbit r1 is currently just yet another first product from yet another artificial intelligence start-up.
In the best-case scenario Rabbit will be bought by some biggie of the caliber of Amazon (the most likely), Microsoft or Google and then dismembered to acquire the patents and use them elsewhere.
In the worst case scenario, however, Rabbit will be a flop that will not go beyond the delivery of the first devices.