Do you hate apps? Jesse Lyu hates apps. At least, that was my takeaway after my first chat with the founder of Rabbit Inc., a new AI startup debuting a pocket-friendly device called the R1 at CES 2024. Instead of taking out your smartphone to complete some task, hunting for the right app, and then tapping around inside it, Lyu wants us to just ask the R1 via a push-to-talk button. Then a series of automated scripts called “rabbits” will carry out the task so you can go about your day.
The R1 is a red-orange, squarish device about the size of a stack of Post-It notes. It was designed in collaboration with the Swedish firm Teenage Engineering. (Lyu is on TE’s board of directors.) The R1 has a 2.88-inch touchscreen on the left side, and there’s an analog scroll wheel to the right of it. Above the scroll wheel is a camera that can rotate 360 degrees. It’s called the “Rabbit Eye”—when it’s not in use, the camera faces up or down, a de facto privacy shutter—and you can employ it as a selfie or rear camera. While you can use the Rabbit Eye for video calls, it’s not meant to be used like a traditional smartphone camera; more on this later.
On the right edge is a push-to-talk button you press and hold to give the R1 voice commands, and there’s a 4G LTE SIM card slot for constant connectivity, meaning it doesn’t need to pair with any other device. (You can also connect the R1 to a Wi-Fi network.) It has a USB-C port for charging, and Rabbit claims it’ll last “all day” on a charge.
The R1 costs $199, though you’ll have to factor in the cost of a monthly cellular connectivity bill too, and you have to set that up yourself. Preorders start today, and it ships in late March.