We knew the Rabbit R1 was something special when we first saw it announced at the CES Las Vegas event, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted just how successful the device was set to be. The CEO of Rabbit Inc., Jesse Lyu Cheng, had a very simple launch for his extremely handy gadget and many equated the first glimpse video of the R1 as Rabbit having its “iPhone moment,” but the simplistic announcement was just what the device needed. Rabbit’s R1 sales skyrocketed almost immediately after the initial announcement and the latest update is that the company has sold out five pre-order rounds already, each a nice and well-stocked 10,000 order strong. The device has shaken up the tech world entirely and brought to global attention just how willing consumers are to try out something new.
The 5th batch of 10,000 rabbit r1 devices has sold out. Pre-orders for the 6th batch, totaling 50,000, are available now at https://t.co/R3sOtVWoJ5
Expected delivery date for the 6th batch is June – July 2024.
For all addresses in the EU and UK, batches 1-6 will be shipped by… pic.twitter.com/D3l8q1Zdu6
— rabbit inc. (@rabbit_hmi) January 19, 2024
Designing An AI Assistant You Didn’t Know You Needed
At first glance the R1 doesn’t sound like all that—AI is already losing some of its sheen after seeing at least a dozen mentions of it everywhere on any given day. Another AI chatbot? Sure, add it to the list. If the matter was that simple though, we wouldn’t be here talking about the device and hypothesizing about whether it’s truly the future of technology. We’ve all heard talks of tech trying to replace smartphones as well—we’re looking at you Humane—but the Rabbit R1 isn’t rushing towards that future just yet, only providing users with an alternative to stop relying so heavily on our phones.
Working in collaboration with Teenage Engineer, a company that the CEO of Rabbit Inc. Jesse Lyu Cheng closely associated with, the R1’s form factor was designed while keeping the “familiar” in mind. Speaking to Fast Company about the design, the CEO revealed that they didn’t want to do something too futuristic and sci-fi because people already unfamiliar with the workings of AI would be pushed even further away by something that was too over the top for consumers to take seriously. Combining design elements from the Tamagotchi and a walkie-talkie to create a retro device that evokes both longing for the past and excitement for the future, the bright orange, or “leuchtorange,” Rabbit R1 is a perfect example of smart product design.
The Rabbit R1 is both nostalgic and unfamiliar and the combination is likely a big part of Rabbit’s success, but the workings of the Rabbit R1 AI also deserve some attention.
Rabbit R1 AI—Here’s What It Can Do For You
The R1, Rabbit’s sweet brainchild, is not as basic as its design might lead you to feel. The unassuming toy-like device is built to act as a go-between service, linking you to your existing apps in a much more seamless way. Once you log into your accounts on the Rabbit Hole web portal, you can essentially treat the AI like an assistant and ask it to take care of your tasks instead of having to do it on your own. The Rabbit R1 device will assign little bots or “rabbits” to handle the tasks, whether it’s ordering groceries through your phone or finding a cab to take you home. So instead of manually having to tap open the app on your phone every time, you might be able to assign tasks to the device to handle on its own.
— Jesse Lyu (@jessechenglyu) January 20, 2024
The company has reportedly moved away from Large Language Models which are traditionally the source of the AI training, and has instead built a Large Action Model that focuses on learning more about the executions of tasks instead. In a similar sense, instead of designing apps and modules to work for the R1 device as we see currently being done for VR devices for example, the R1 learns to operate existing apps to allow for a smooth transition to the device without having to install or familiarize yourself with another new collection of apps. It’s ingenious and the CEO of Rabbit believes the device is just getting started.
The R1 Rabbit also has a teach mode where you can apparently teach the rabbit to go through the motions of a new task it might be unfamiliar with, guiding it through the steps so it learns how a task is done and familiarizes itself with executing the task on its own when instructed. According to The Verge, the CEO of Rabbit explained that you could, for example, teach the device to open Photoshop, open the source folder for your images, and teach it to use the lasso tool to remove watermarks. If effective, the possibilities are endless on the kind of repetitive tasks you could set it to execute. Most recently, Rabbit announced a partnership with Perplexity’s AI in order to speed things up even further and it should be interesting to see how this changes things for the company.
Let’s go free year of perplexity with Rabbit R1 😎 pic.twitter.com/OKrsQwSChE
— Noah Solomon (@noahgsolomon) January 19, 2024
Rabbit R1 Price
The Rabbit R1 price has been set at a humble, modest $199. The unbelievable pricing is likely one of the major reasons for the R1’s success and is likely where the Humane AI Pin failed—reaching too far towards exclusivity with a $699 price tag with a $24 monthly subscription to use it. For unfamiliar technology that may seem like an additional burden for many, there is little actual reason to purchase new technology even if you’re curious to try it out. But at $199, which is still not affordable for everyone but doable for many, the price seems like a reasonable amount to pay to be among the first to try out the innovative technology.
The initial Rabbit R1 sales have likely been spurred on by this very same desire and the pre-orders are a great start for the company to keep its device updating and reaching new heights. Now it’s unclear how long this burst of orders will go on. There will still be people making a purchase as reviews begin to pour in after people start receiving their orders but it will persist only if the Rabbit R1’s performance actually lives up to expectations. We’ve yet to see many real-world applications, its ease of use, and whether the device lasts beyond a temporary craze. So far, the Rabbit R1 AI appears to be a perfect progression of what we can do with AI technology and we see the vision and are enthusiastic about where it goes next.