Stand down Siri, move aside Alexa: it's Rabbit time

The Rabbit R1 could be the app-controlling gadget of the future

Rabbit R1
(Image credit: Rabbit)

We may have just seen the future of AI, and it's a Rabbit. The Rabbit R1 is an AI-powered gadget that's designed to enhance your phone by controlling your apps, and it could end up being the best idea ever.

Predicting the future of tech is tough, though. The original iPod was dismissed as "lame" and the iPhone was mocked by phone firms who thought it was impossible to make; conversely, the tech world got really excited about a world-changing device that turned out to be the Segway.

There's certainly no doubt that the Rabbit R1 is a very interesting device. As Rabbit founder Jesse Lyu describes it, it's a kind of walkie-talkie for AI. And it's already promised to be 10 times faster than your current digital assistant.

How does the Rabbit R1 work, and what does it actually do?

The Rabbit R1 is very much a work in progress – much like the original iPad was; Apple didn't really know what that would be used for beyond maybe everything, and Rabbit is much the same with its AI assistant.

However, it has the potential to be smarter than Siri and more useful than Alexa. It's a pocket digital assistant that uses large language modelling like ChatGPT but that ties it with what the firm calls a Large Action Model. That model turns talk into action, and it can learn by watching what you do in your various apps.

The device doesn't pair with your phone, and it doesn't connect to your apps directly. Instead, it uses a web-based gateway – much like your cloud-based apps already do – to act as a kind of go-between between your devices and your online services, whether those services are streaming or booking or shopping or anything else that lives online.

As the Rabbit R1 can learn how you use your apps, it can then operate them for you. For example, where you can get a ChatGPT-style system to create a holiday travel plan for you, the Rabbit can book your travel and accommodation. It'll book your Ubers, answer your trivia questions and help you decide what to cook when you point its camera inside your fridge. 

It'll be fascinating to see whether the R1 lives up to its promise, and we won't have to wait long to find out: the Rabbit R1 will go on sale in late March for $199.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (