Jesse Lyu, the CEO and creator of Rabbit, an AI firm, claims he does not want to replace your smartphone. At least not right now. Lyu’s company’s latest product, the R1, a $199 standalone AI device, is so ambitious that he seems to believe it will eventually replace your smartphone. Just not yet.
The R1 Playdate controller looks like the 90s version.
It’s a standalone device roughly half the size of an iPhone, with a 2.88-inch touchscreen, a rotating camera for shooting photographs and movies, and a scroll wheel or button that you use to browse or communicate with the device’s built-in assistant. It has a 2.3GHz MediaTek CPU, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage, all housed in a circular body created in partnership with Teenage Engineering. Rabbit claims the battery lasts “all day.”
The device, called Rabbit, is designed to be portable and user-friendly, making it convenient for everyday use.
The compact size and touchscreen allow for easy navigation and interaction with the device’s features. With powerful hardware specifications, Rabbit ensures smooth performance and ample storage capacity for multimedia files and applications. Additionally, the collaboration with Teenage Engineering brings a sleek and stylish design to the device, making it visually appealing. With its long-lasting battery, Rabbit is the perfect companion for a day full of productivity and entertainment.
I spent a few minutes with the R1 after Rabbit’s launch event, and it’s a fantastic piece of hardware. Only one gadget (Lyu’s) was functioning, and it couldn’t accomplish anything due to the hotel’s patchy Wi-Fi connection. However, the R1 is shockingly light and feels far better than it seems in photos. Its buttons are clicky and pleasant.
The actual news is the software inside the R1.
Rabbit’s operating system, known as Rabbit OS, and the AI technology behind it.
Rather than a ChatGPT-like broad language model, Rabbit OS is built on a “Large Action Model,” which I can best characterize as a universal controller for applications. “We wanted to find a universal solution, just like large language models,” he said. “How can we find a universal solution to actually trigger our services, regardless of whether you’re a website, an app, whatever platform, or desktop? asks Teenage Engineering, and the whole thing fits well in my hands. However, it is certainly a fingerprint magnet.
The compact size and ergonomic design of Rabbit OS make it a convenient and user-friendly operating system. Teenage Engineering’s focus on creating a universal solution is evident in the seamless integration of Rabbit OS across different platforms and devices. Despite its excellent functionality, one drawback is the device’s susceptibility to fingerprints, requiring frequent cleaning to maintain its sleek appearance.
It is conceptually comparable to Alexa or Google Assistant.
Rabbit OS allows you to manage your music, book a vehicle, purchase groceries, send messages, and more, all from a single interface. There is no need to balance applications and logins; just ask for what you want, and the gadget will give it to you. The R1’s on-screen interface will consist of a series of category-based cards for music, transportation, and video chats, according to Lyu, and the screen will mostly exist so that you can check the model’s output yourself.
Rather than creating a slew of APIs and convincing developers to adopt the R1.
Rabbit taught its model to utilize current applications for itself. The large action model, or LAM, was trained by users engaging with applications such as Spotify and Uber, effectively teaching the model how they function. The LAM learned what a Settings icon looked like, how to tell whether an order was confirmed, and where the search options were. All of that, Lyu claims, can be applied to any app, anywhere.
The R1 also features a specific training mode where you can teach the gadget how to do something, and it should be able to repeat the activity on its own in the future. Lyu provides an example: “You’ll be like, ‘Hey, first of all, go to this program called Photoshop. Open it. Take your photographs here. Draw a lasso around the watermark and click, click, click. “This is how you remove the watermark.” According to Lyu, Rabbit OS takes 30 seconds to complete before automatically removing all of your watermarks in the future.
This training mode is a remarkable feature that saves users a significant amount of time and effort. By providing step-by-step instructions, the R1 can easily learn complex tasks and perform them flawlessly without any human intervention. With Rabbit OS’s efficient processing, users can effortlessly remove watermarks from their photographs in just a matter of seconds, making it a valuable tool for professionals and photography enthusiasts alike.
The real issue is how all this will work in reality.
You’ll be able to do certain things on the R1, and there’s a web portal called the Rabbit Hole where you can log in to all your services. For example, if you want to teach the machine how to use Photoshop, you can do so by running one of Rabbit’s virtual computers instead of your own computer. However, this will be difficult to enable with a large number of people across many devices and platforms.
Rabbit OS might be the app store’s equivalent of ChatGPT for online searching.
Rabbit’s technique here is rather ingenious. Getting anybody to support a new operating system is difficult, even if you’re a tech titan, and the LAM method circumvents this by simply teaching the model how to utilize applications. More generally, we’re seeing a slew of new AI-powered technology hit the market, but too frequently, those devices just link to a chatbot.
Rabbit, on the other hand, functions more like a super app, with a single interface that allows you to accomplish almost everything. Rabbit OS might be equivalent to ChatGPT in terms of online search and the app store. There are a thousand complexities and qualifiers to that idea, of course, but it’s a fascinating one.
Listening to Lyu speak about Rabbit OS and the R1.
It’s unclear what the company’s true ambition for this gadget is. It isn’t powerful enough to replace your phone, but it does support video calls and has a SIM card slot. Although it is mainly a voice assistant, the gadget also has a screen and a camera. It’s not simply a voice assistant, although it accomplishes a lot of voice assistant tasks. Rabbit claims to have created Rabbit OS with security and privacy in mind, yet it still requires you to log in to some of your most frequently used services via its interface.
The R1, in Lyu’s opinion, is both a useful accessory and the all-in-one future of almost everything. With its video call support and SIM card slot, the R1 offers more functionality than a typical voice assistant. The presence of a screen and camera further enhances its capabilities, allowing users to engage in various tasks beyond just voice commands.
While Rabbit OS prioritizes security and privacy, the requirement to log in to frequently used services through its interface raises questions about potential vulnerabilities. Nonetheless, in Lyu’s perspective, the R1 represents a valuable accessory and a glimpse into the future of versatile and integrated technology.