Karotz, the smart robotic bunny rabbit

By Jack Ratcliffe,

Karotz

When a product boasts of being a “wireless, intelligent, internet rabbit, set to change the way we live”, it’s difficult to take it seriously. When it’s stuffed with wifi, Bluetooth, a webcam and a RFID scanner, however, ears perk up. Karotz is bunny-shaped, pretty adorable device that can: play music, share social media updates, communicate with friends, wake you up, tell you weather, let you know when your kids get home and keep a watchful eye over your house. In functionality, it’s closer to a guard dog/messenger pigeon cross-breed than a simple rabbit.

Karotz predominantly depends on vocal control – it’ll read out information to you, and it controlled solely by your voice. There’s no input buttons or screen to display information – it does have a colour changing tummy, though.  As with all good voice recognition software, it learns and adapts to your voice.  The YouTube promotion video suggests you read to it, but that might be a bit too insane for most users.

Inside its translucent white plastic shell, it’s powered by Linux base, with a 400MHz ARM CPU, 64MB of RAM and 256MB memory. Most people will use wifi, but if you’re still stuck in the 20th century there’s an Ethernet option. There’ s a USB socket for playing music from memory sticks, although the majority of users will probably use the streaming option, allowing playback from either a computer or a smartphone.

Here’s what Karotz can do:

It’s not totally independent, however. You’ll need to use a computer to set-up the Karotz. Even a smartphone might work, though, as you log into a web-based portal to change the settings, including saving your Facebook and Twitter information for instant updates. The device will read new statuses and tweets to you, as well as weather, traffic and news updates, and other information services – including friends’ birthdays.

For communication, Karotz can call other Karotz devices, or contact smartphones with the appropriate app installed. It’s a pretty cool feature, especially because SMS message support has also been promised. There’s something unshakably cute about having a heart-to-heart conversation via a white rabbit.

It’s also a great home monitoring tool, letting you log-in to the webcam to check out if your house is okay, or sense RFID chips, useful for letting you know when your kids have arrived home from school. It’ll be out March 2011, costing 199 Euros – less than most pedigree pets, and doing far more.