Is this Rabbit going to replace your smartphone?

An AI instead of an OS

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This AI device wants to control your apps for you

AI startup Rabbit has announced R1, a $199 pocketable AI device that, according to the company’s founder, might someday replace your smartphone.

If a dedicated AI gadget that promises to supplant the smartphone sounds familiar, you’re probably thinking of the soon-to-launch AI Pin from Humane. However, unlike that product, the R1 has a screen. Granted, it’s only 2.9-inches, but a screen is a screen. 

The R1 also has a rotating camera for capturing photos and videos, far-field mics, a scroll-wheel button, 4GB memory, and 128GB storage. But most interesting - at least for style enthusiasts - acclaimed Swedish device-maker Teenage Engineering collaborated with Rabbit on the unique design. (That bold orange sure will stand out at the club.)

As far as what the R1 can do, it’s perhaps best described in terms of how Rabbit’s AI interface handles apps like Uber and Spotify.** **Rather than you having to tap and swipe, you tell the AI what you want to achieve and it gets to work for you. As explained by Rabbit founder Jesse Lyu in the R1 launch video, the company has developed a large action model that can learn “any interfaces from any software,” and then turn “words into action.”

The R1 is available now for preorder and is scheduled to ship in late March. If you are interested, you might want to move as quick as a hare - Rabbit sold 10,000 units on the first day of availability.

Why it matters: First there was Humane, now we have Rabbit. Expect to see more dedicated AI devices before the year is out.

Wired | Link to story.

The ChatGPT Store opens for business

**OpenAI **announced ChatGPT Store back in November, but thanks to some distractions, the custom GPT platform was delayed. Now the wait is over, and custom GPTs are available to download.

According to OpenAI, there are more than 3 million GPTs available, including chatbots geared towards book discovery, presentation creation, and parsing information within PDFs.

In order to access a custom GPT you’ll need to be on a paid ChatGPT account. However, if you’re on the fence about whether you need a unique GPT, you can at least browse the GPT Store free of charge to see if there’s a tool that could be useful. 

Why it matters: Chatbots might just have their app store moment.

The Verge | Link to story.

Walmart is embracing AI-powered shopping tools

Retail heavyweight Walmart has made an appearance at CES to pitch a slate of AI-enabled tools.

The grocery store behemoth has announced a generative AI feature that will look at a customer’s previous search history and make suggestions for what else they might need. Walmart says the feature could be useful when shopping for annual events like the Super Bowl.

Walmart also revealed InHome Replenishment - a service that monitors a consumer’s purchasing habits and puts together a smart shopping list of what it thinks they will need.

Lastly, the company has said it will roll out its AI-powered My Assistant tool for non-store employees, which promises to help with a number of tasks including content creation and summarizing internal documents.

Why it matters: As Walmart is demonstrating, AI tools have the potential to serve both customers and employees.

Axios | Link to story.

Chinese AI lab causes headaches for Microsoft

Microsoft has considered whether to shut down its AI lab in China, according to sources for The New York Times.

The lab, which was established in 1998, has played a key role in the development of Microsoft’s AI recognition technologies, allowing the company to make advances in speech and image interpretation tools. However, rising tensions between the US and China has caused Microsoft executives to raise questions about the facility - including its long-term viability.

The report notes Microsoft has plans to move some of its China-based talent to an AI lab in Vancouver, Canada, but says key figures within the company want to still maintain the Chinese site. The New York Times also states Microsoft has limited what the Chinese team can work on, while highlighting the Vancouver researchers enjoy more scope.

Why it matters: As the US and China spar over AI, it will likely only get harder for Microsoft and others to stay out of the fray.

The New York Times | Link to story (paywall).

Profile Picture of Nile Frater

Written By: Nile Frater

Editor in Chief

Published Date: Mar 11, 2024

Rabbit has a dedicated AI device on the way, and OpenAI's ChatGPT store finally arrives.

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