Speech recognition seems to have taken off after Apple launched SIRI with the iPhone 4S. Other platforms have followed suit, such as Nuance’s own Nina (Nuance powers SIRI), as well as Angel Labs’ Lexee, both of which we recently wrote about. Kickstarter seems to be rife with all sorts of innovative projects, and one of them is also banking on the potential of speech-controlled interfaces.
Ubi is basically an internet device meant for the home. The device is powered by Andriod and connects to your home network via Wi-Fi. What’s different with Ubi relative to most other Android devices is the lack of a touchscreen. Ubi works purely through voice.
As the Kickstarter profile says, “just plug it in, talk to it and it’ll help you connect with your world.”
Ubi gives homeowners access to email, weather, schedules, and just about any information by talking to the device. The creators have planned a few major apps and functionalities, although users are free to maximize Ubi’s features as they please:
- Voice-enabled Internet search
- Indicator light (light changing based on events, e.g. weather, stock, email)
- Home speaker system with sound piping
- Virtual assistant (audio calendar, feed reader, podcast etc)
- Voice memos
- Alarm clock
- Intercom system
- Baby monitor
- Noise pollution monitor
- Controlling the climate of your home perfectly (through web enabled thermostats like Nest)
Ubi can likewise be used in homes that require greater accessibility, such as for the visually-impaired. As such, blindness should not be a constraint against using a capable Android device.
Apart from the speech interface, though, Ubi can likewise be configured and controlled via a Web UI. Ubi can be monitored remotely, and can even be shut down from the web.
The Kickstarter financing seeks contributions of at least $1 for early-bird access to the device once ready. $149 gets you an early backer privilege (you get to enjoy one of the first 100 Ubi unites). Regular backer price is $189 for a single Ubi. Other backer contribution packages are also available, like the $6,000 distributor pack, which gets you 50 Ubis (for a price of $120 each).
The project has a target financing of $36,000. As of this writing, Ubi has already reached $34,529 in pledges, so it’s very likely that the project will be funded well in excess of its target. The developers plan to ship Ubi by early 2013.