Rabbit R1 – exciting new gadget that overlooks the basics | by Zaid Delawalla | Jan, 2024 – Medium

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Zaid Delawalla

Rabbit’s R1 was announced on 9th January with a 25 minute (and 30 seconds) launch video on YouTube.
It’s an exciting product that presents a different take at using artificial intelligence capabilities to perform very specific tasks. Rabbit calls the large action models (LAMs) which are designed to take commands — which can be more vaguely explained to the voice assistant than the precise explanations you give to the current range of voice assistants — and perform those actions for you.
The device also has a simpler design — you use the R1 as a voice assistant, which is activated by the press of a button on the side of the device, and ask the action that you need the LAM to perform.
Image Courtesy of Rabbit
The demos of Spotify, Uber and DoorDash were interesting, to say the least. And the manner of showing the booking of a vacation seemed… casual (more on that below).
The $200 price tag is a good entry point for something which many people would be interested. It clearly generated enough interest to have sold out 2 batches of 10,000 R1’s (as of 12th January). Further, the Rabbit website also mentions the fourth batch is also sold out at the time of writing (17th January — see below image). Not a bad start!
Understandably, the R1 presents a relatively better proposition for small devices that are separate to the smartphones. When compared to the Humane AI Pin, which starts at a hefty price tag of $699 (and an additional $24 per month subscription – excluding taxes and fees), the $200 price tag of the R1 is much more reasonable.
However, some things in the launch video overlooked some basics of why we use the smartphones. It also breezes past the problem with AI tools as the primary source of information/actions – it hallucinates.
Here are more detail on what I felt was overlooked in the launch video:
I agree that smartphones are becoming a complex gadget with so many apps cluttering our home screens (or app libraries). It’s not ideal.
But we haven’t “grown tired of” these smartphones.
They allow us to do a lot of things that were before confined to the bulkier, bigger screens attached with keyboards called as laptops (or personal computers for the desktop enthusiasts).
A bulk of our time on the smartphone is spent on our social media feeds (hello Instagram, TikTok, etc.), checking (and responding to) emails, taking calls, using the various messaging apps to stay connected with the family, friends and colleagues.
I’m wondering what can Rabbit add that can make more people drop the smartphone in favour of the R1? Add in your suggestions in the comments below!
The showcasing of Spotify, Uber and DoorDash looked cool. But that’s the thing with the cool factor, it wears off quite quickly after a few times.
The example of flights, hotels and vacationing spots booking was baffling. People go through multiple stages of searching through various different websites, comparing packages or making up their own combinations, to find the cheapest and best possible package that makes sense for their budget and plans. Not many people will book the first thing an AI tool suggests, specially when the AI hallucination problem is very real.
The launch video did touch on this [around the 3.01 minute mark in the video] where they tried querying ChatGPT for bookings via Expedia and the following link didn’t show any results. However, they didn’t really focus on how they solve this issue. How can we be sure on the accuracy of results processed by the R1?
The showcase tries to tell us that we are getting tired of smartphones. But the Rabbit R1 doesn’t solve the workflow issues that are resolved by the app-based interfaces. I mean what stops the LAM capabilities to be integrated via an app on the smartphone which most of us already use? I’m sure Google, Microsoft / OpenAI and Apple (via Siri or Shortcuts?) would probably be working on making their voice assistant become more capable of being useful in performing actions than just being good enough to tell us the weather or play something on Spotify.
The showcase also mentions a 4G/LTE SIM card slot but doesn’t elaborate if this serves a purpose of anything but providing constant connectivity for the LAM to respond to our queries even when out of the WiFi range. Would be interesting to see how it handles messaging / calling via the R1.
The Rabbit R1 is an exciting device that could bring the first step of having a mainstream device which makes use of LAMs. At the price of $200, and no subscription, even casual tech enthusiasts would be interested as the initial buy-in is considerably lower when compared to similarly targeted devices like the Humane AI Pin.
However, I disagree that we are growing tired of our phones. Instead, the point should be that this device can be the perfect companion for your smartphone to simplify a lot of the tasks that require multiple clicks to get from point A (opening the app) to point B (having the intended action perform on the device). The Spotify and Uber examples make relatively more sense.
I do understand the proposition that this may help in reducing the use of smartphones too — something I’ve been actively trying to limit the hours spent on social media sites.
Nevertheless, excited to see how the Rabbit R1 actually performs once it begins delivery from Easter 2024. Comment down below if you’re interested in or have already ordered a Rabbit R1!
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I write mainly about technology, gaming and sports but also occasional posts on things that pique my interest!
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