March 23, 2024

The Rabbit R1 chronicles.

Chapter 13: Do you want your AI to be a Gameboy, techno brooche or giant Mento?

The validity of the dedicated AI device just became more obvious with the introduction of a third noted player: Open Interpreter 01 Light. For a quick backstory, Open Interpreter AI developer Killian Lucas saw the Rabbbit R1 demo and Xed: we could make an open-source vers of this pretty quick with a Raspberry Pi + Open Interpreter…who wants to help? Six weeks later, Killian has a functional prototype and is taking preorders at $109. It shows how blurringly fast things are moving for everyone in this space.

In this article, let’s take a step back and look at Rabbit R1 as part of the emerging category of AI devices. Obviously, a dedicated AI device (and not just an app for your phone) has merit with so many popping up. And it all goes back to Star Trek. Both the Rabbit R1 and 01 Light are very much like Star Trek communicator and AI Pin is very much like the later Star Trek communicator pin. All are based on voice commands and use Google’s AOSP platform as the core of their OS, but have slightly different features. All have a push-to-talk button, microphone and speaker—just like James Kirk will eventually have.

Rabbit R1 is the most conventional device of the three. It’s handheld, has a camera and is the only one with a screen. The AI Pin attaches to your clothes, has a camera and uses a projector that projects onto your hand. It can also make phone calls, but like Google Glass, I’m thinking there’s probably a stigma associated with wearing your AI on your shirt. The 01 Light is a clicky orb that’s audio only, so it has no visual input or output.

All three devices work by connecting to a virtual machine in the cloud. The 01 Light can cleverly connect with your UNIX-based computer at home instead. The downfall of that is (as I understand it) you need a Mac or Ubuntu-based desktop at this time. You also need to get into the terminal of your computer to set up the 01 Light. And then once you do, you have no visual confirmation remotely of what the AI is doing. You just have to take the AI’s word for it. 01 Light is a build-it-yourself connection and the process is not as consumer-friendly so will more likely to appeal to hardcore UNIX-based users.

I must admit it was cool to watch Killian using the 01 Light to give voice commands to a Mac while sitting in front of it to see what the AI was controlling. But that’s like you’re standing over an underling at their computer telling them what to do: It’s much faster to use the keyboard and do it yourself. Incidentally Rabbit R1 can control web-based services on your computer through your Rabbit Hole portal in a similar way, if you really feel like bossing your AI around.

One thing that’s vague at this point is the continuing cost associated with running any of these devices. After all, both the virtual machine and the cloud have costs associated with them. So what’s the sustainability model? For the AI Pin it’s clear that the $24 monthly subscription gives you phone, remote data and their virtual machine. But is that really enough to cover the astronomical costs of the AI they’re connecting to? If you don’t want to be limited to wifi, Rabbit R1 requires a sim card. I’m expecting that I can tag onto my existing T-Mobile plan for $10 a month. As for Rabbit’s virtual machine, well that’s free at the moment with Rabbit’s venture capital footing the bill. 01 Light? I currently can’t find data on if it communicates through wifi, Bluetooth, SIM or magic. And even though open-source and “free”, somebody will have to foot the bill for communication and servers. The thing to know about this space is: No matter how little or how much ea device sells for, there will always be costs associated with using an AI assistant and, like always, it’s the user who ultimately pays.

At this point, I’m thinking that Rabbit R1 will be the most practical of these devices. It has an onscreen keyboard for those times you don’t want to be talking aloud or are in a loud environment. Using it with wifi is free. And with over 100,000 units sold, it appears to be seriously outselling the other two devices. Through USB-C and Bluetooth it’s possible that you can connect other input and output devices. And if Elon Musk’s Neuralink gets bluetooth—you may be able to control your Rabbit R1 with your mind. (But don’t hold your breath.)

Read the next chapter: The death of apps.

Check out the Chronicles.

I have no affiliation with Rabbit Inc. I’m just an early adopter. If you want to support this journey into the Rabbit, buying me a coffee below helps keep the articles coming.

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Chapter 12: It’s Android/not Android. Rabbit R1 is built on a mobile operating system called AOSP, Android Open Source Project. Oh, so it’s Android? Not really. Think of AOSP as the
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Chapter 14: The death of apps. Though I’ve never been a fan of Bill Gates, the man certainly is psychic. Many years ago he predicted that future software would be in the cloud and
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