If, before you read this post, you stopped and asked yourself what devices you need to make your digital life complete, chances are that a robotic rabbit who reads RSS feeds to you wasn't on your list. However, Karotz, the brainchild of French company Mindscape isn't about filling an urgent need as much as it's about creating a really fun device that pushes the envelope of technology using text-to-speech, voice recognition, and RFID technology together in a truly unique and exciting product that just happens to look like a cute white bunny.
So what exactly can the Karotz do? It can't move around, though its ears can perk up, and its belly can light up in different colors. However, the real beauty of this device is its ability to send audio updates from the Web, based on either voice commands or RFID input. According to Mindscape, the Karotz can:
- Read you informationfrom your RSS feeds, e-mails, social networking status updates, and more, based on your voice request Using a Web-based interface, you will be able to configure Karotz to notify you of friends' status updates, news items from your favorite web sites, or e-mails. So you'll be able to speak into Karotz's head and say "Read Laptop Mag" and, if you have configured it correctly, the device will read you the latest news from our RSS feed. Or, when your friend updates her Facebook page and you're sitting on the couch, Karotz will read you her update.
Mindscape also says you'll be able to filter which events, if any, trigger a Karotz alert. So, if you only want Karotz to tell you when your boss sends e-mail, you can configure it to do so.
- Play radio or weather info on demand. You'll be able to talk into Karotz's head and say "play radio" and have him start streaming online music.
- Conduct audio chats with other Karotz users. If you have a friend who owns a Karotz, you can say "call Alice" and your Karotz will connect to hers and you can conduct a phone conversation.
- Watch your home from your phone. Using the webcam in Karotz's belly and an iPhone or Android app, you can check your house to make sure the dog hasn't knocked anything over in your absence.
- Run apps for additional functionaliy. Mindscape will open an app store and developers will be creating apps for the device so, if you want Karotz to teach you Mandarin, maybe there will be an app for that.
If simply using voice input to control Karotz is not enough for you, the device comes with two small, colorful bunnies that are called Nanoztags. The Nanoztags are really RFID chips that you can configure online to launch different Karotz functions when you rub them against Karotz's belly. So if you configure a green Nanoztag to mean "check traffic report," you can just grab it, touch it to the right spot on Karotz and watch as Karotz executes that command.
The possibilities of this technoogy are endless so we can't wait to get in our own Karotz and test all of its features. Karotz is currently available to preo-rder for $179.99 from karotz.com, with availability expected in mid-March. Karotz.com also sells a wide variety of accessories, from additional Nanoztags to patterned replacement ears for your unit.
Check out the hands-on below to see Karotz in action.