This AI Startup Wants to Reinvent How We Interact With Devices     – CNET

This AI Startup Wants to Reinvent How We Interact With Devices – CNET

When Tony Stark needs something, all he needs to do is ask his always-at-the-ready AI assistant, Jarvis. The rest of us have to jump through a few more hoops.

But if tech companies have it their way, it won’t be long before we’re conversing with our own digital assistants, via natural language interfaces.

At Google I/O last month, Google teased its plans for AI agents that can converse with us to do our bidding as the next evolution beyond digital assistants. AI-powered email platform Superhuman has also hinted at plans to build agents. And so these natural language interfaces seem to be a hot ticket in the hyperactive AI sector.

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We can add Rabbit to the list of startups with ambitions in this vein.

Rabbit calls itself “an AI startup building the future of [the] human-machine interface.”

What does that mean exactly?

According to Ashley Bao, head of communications and marketingat Rabbit, we have learned how to interact with our devices, but the swipes and clicks we use to tell phones, tablets and laptops what we want to do are not necessarily intuitive — and certainly not as natural as human language.

Rabbit wants to fundamentally change this interaction so you simply talk to your device, which will understand what you want and perform actions on your behalf, like playing music or generating images.

In April, Rabbit began shipping its first product, the R1, which it calls a “consumer AI device running on a revolutionary natural-language operating system.” As my colleague Lisa Eadicicco pointed out when she unboxed it, the boxy, handheld, bright orange device isn’t supposed to replace your smartphone, but rather serve as an AI-powered virtual assistant that responds to verbal commands.

The Rabbit R1 can do many of the things you currently do on your phone, like ordering DoorDash or calling an Uber. However, instead of opening apps to perform those actions, you talk to it like a walkie-talkie. That’s because the Rabbit OS is powered by AI that has been trained to use apps and services on your behalf.

This transition may require a leap of faith Bao likened to the shift in transportation from horses to cars more than century ago.

However, in her review, Eadicicco said many of the experiences aren’t as good as they are on a smartphone, so the R1 doesn’t yet live up to its ambition to accomplish these tasks faster and more efficiently. Rabbit said it is listening to feedback and issued five software updates in the first month after release.

Additional features to come include travel planning, reminders and smart home and shopping functionality.

Rabbit has raised $30 million to date, including a $10 million Series A round led by Khosla Ventures in December.

This is one of a series of short profiles of AI startups, to help you get a handle on the landscape of artificial intelligence activity going on. For more on AI, see our new AI Atlas hub, which includes product reviews, news, tips and explainers.

Editors’ note: CNET used an AI engine to help create several dozen stories, which are

labeled accordingly. The note you’re reading is attached to articles that deal

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Lisa Lacy

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