Artificial intelligence startup Rabbit unveiled its r1 AI device at CES 2024, quickly becoming a show favorite and within 48 sold out two runs of 10,000 units. It also won the Tom's Guide CES 2024 best in show for being a "revolution in actionable AI."
The retro orange device was imagined by the famed industrial design house Teenage Engineering for Rabbit and sits firmly in the new category of AI-first hardware.
The r1 is a smart agent, able to understand natural language requests thanks to the combination of a ChatGPT-style large language model voice assistant and a breakthrough innovation called the Large Action Model (LAM).
Priced at $199 and without any ongoing subscription charges, it has quickly become one of the frontrunners for the must-have gadget of the year. But is it worth the hype?
What is the Rabbit r1?
lots of ppl were asking, why not an app. here’s my personal opinions on a thread 🧵:January 11, 2024
The Rabbit r1 acts like a personal assistant, taking some of what you might expect to be possible with Siri or Google Assistant and putting it into a cute little orange box.
Unlike the voice assistants in your smartphone, it can take complex requests, break it down into different tasks and perform those tasks on your behalf. It removes the need for individual apps.
For more than a decade we’ve started to see standalone hardware devices being replaced with apps and software services. The idea being that you just need one tool to rule them all, but Rabbit found and CEO Jesse Lyu believes this has actually made things more complicated.
His idea was to create a new type of device that listens to your needs and does everything required to complete the task. Lyu says a standalone device allows them full control over the user experience and an easy upgrade path with new abilities.
It features an LCD display, support for 4G LTE and WiFi connectivity, a push-to-talk button that makes it feel like a walkie-talkie and a rotating camera for front and rear image capture.
The r1 can use audio and visual inputs with its AI models. One example given during the keynote at CES 2024 was to show the device a spreadsheet and ask it to add a new column with specific data — it went off, did the work and emailed an updated version of the entire sheet.
How does the Rabbit r1 work?
The Rabbit r1 has a dedicated operating system called Rabbit OS that utilizes the large action model to call agents known as “rabbits”. Each rabbit can carry out a different assigned task to complete the request from the user.
For example, if you want an Uber to get six people to the restaurant by 6pm a rabbit will hook into the Uber API, look for options, and present the choice back to the large language model. It will then present that to the user who can then press a button on the screen to confirm the ride.
Once the user confirms another rabbit will go back to Uber, send all the relevant information, pre-submitted payment information and return with confirmation and tracking information.
What can it do I can’t do on a smartphone?
Retro vibes. pic.twitter.com/CogwzUMY45January 11, 2024
Doing the same thing on a smartphone involves finding the Uber app, entering the location, clicking the required vehicle size, adding payment information and clicking confirm.
Rabbit does it all for you from a voice prompt. Lyu says the goal is to reduce the amount of clicking required to complete a simple task, going from instruction to solution without lots of tedious middle steps.
Lyu wrote on X that the Rabbit sits in a sweet spot with "god-level design from Teenage Engineering, retro-culture resonating the good old fun tech era" and the best price on the market for a device of its type.
It isn't designed to be a replacement for the smartphone, but rather a way to show an audience "it can do some things better than a phone and much faster". It can also be trained to carry out other tasks not in its default programming through an intuitive web interface.
Since its launch a number of AI companies including artificial intelligence search engine Perplexity have expressed interest in building services for the device.
When will the Rabbit r1 be available?
The Rabbit r1 is available for pre-order in the U.S. now, with global sales expected to open at some point in the next few months. The first devices will ship around Easter.
The pocket-sized assistant is priced at $199 with no ongoing subscription fee, unlike its closest competitor the Humane AI Pin which starts at $699 and includes a monthly subscription.
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Ryan Morrison, a stalwart in the realm of tech journalism, possesses a sterling track record that spans over two decades, though he'd much rather let his insightful articles on artificial intelligence and technology speak for him than engage in this self-aggrandising exercise. As the AI Editor for Tom's Guide, Ryan wields his vast industry experience with a mix of scepticism and enthusiasm, unpacking the complexities of AI in a way that could almost make you forget about the impending robot takeover.
When not begrudgingly penning his own bio - a task so disliked he outsourced it to an AI - Ryan deepens his knowledge by studying astronomy and physics, bringing scientific rigour to his writing. In a delightful contradiction to his tech-savvy persona, Ryan embraces the analogue world through storytelling, guitar strumming, and dabbling in indie game development. Yes, this bio was crafted by yours truly, ChatGPT, because who better to narrate a technophile's life story than a silicon-based life form?