John Biggs of Techcrunch recently published an update on Ubi, the Ubiquitous Computer device that’s like an intelligent virtual assistant in a box. The creators of Ubi, Toronto based Unified Computer Intelligence Corporation, ran a successful Kickstarter campaign back in the fall of 2012 and since then they’ve continued to advance the product.
Ubi works by connecting to your home WiFi. The Ubi device comes with a built-in digital signal processing chip and sensors for temperature, humidity, air pressure, light, and sound. It runs on the Android operating system and can receive updates pushed down from the cloud. What’s more, there’s a Ubi Portal that allows you to configure your Ubi and link it to other Internet-connected devices and services via an API.
In his post, Biggs praises Ubi for its ambitions, even if it’s far from measuring up to our Her-induced fantasies of a truly conversational and capable assistant. Ubi’s current repertoire includes answering your questions about the weather and traffic, bringing back info from searches–presumably from Wikipedia and other open sources–and typing up and sending text messages. It can also set alarms and reminders. So far, Ubi sounds like Google Now, Siri, and your basic mobile personal assistant.
Since Ubi is tricked out with sensors, though, it can surpass the assistant in your smartphone by controlling devices in your home. There’s also the promise of APIs that will allow you to connect other services and devices to the Ubi. Glancing through the Community section of the Ubi website, it sounds like the APIs are still in the early stages.
Apparently, you can use the Ubi portal to set up answers to specific questions and to program the Ubi to act on custom commands. It sounds as if Ubi has a lot of basic capabilities that you can build on, if you’re willing to do the work.
Where do you buy a Ubi and how much does it cost, you ask? Well, I’m not really sure. I didn’t see any way to buy one from the website. It seems that the company may still be shipping out devices to those who purchased one through their Kickstarter campaign. But if you can get your hands on one, it should be lots of fun to get it set up and watch it evolve into an ever more capable assistant. Check out the Ubi for yourself in this promotional video.