Nabaztag, a Wi-Fi-enabled rabbit able to talk, sing, light up in different colours and wiggle its ears, is the latest entry in the new field of “smart objects”. The idea is that chic household items present information unobtrusively and in ways that can be taken in at a glance. Nabaztag can, among other things, wiggle its ears to indicate the arrival of an e-mail from a particular address, light up according to the weather forecast or stockmarket activity, and read out news headlines or messages. Made by Violet, a smart-objects firm in Paris, Nabaztag was first launched last year in France, Switzerland and Belgium, but is now available worldwide.
I just heard about this a few days ago, because a friend in Paris has one. One of the premium services allows you to have the bunny read you RSS feeds (like the one for this page). I hadn't realized until the Economist article that it was a Parisian company, as they are available now at ThinkGeek.
The great thing about these is that they allow you to get an environmental cue about certain online things. The tough part, of course, is figuring out how to use that in an efficient manner - if the darned thing yells at you every five seconds, it probably isn't making you more efficient. But done right, I bet this could really make your life easier, especially if you get lots of email, only some of which you care to know about.
As the friend in question I must say this thing is amazing!
It's actually quite easy to control how often it "talks" to you. I have it set up to read me the BBC news at 10:00 in the morning, the front page of Libération at 11:00 and to give me the weather at 10:30 and 15:30. Aside from that it only "talks" to me if someone sends me a message specifically... except for the fact that it checks every 20 minutes to see if the "Life of Dave" RSS feeds has been updated and then it reads the subject out to me. I then immediately find a computer, connect to the Life of Dave site and get my timely update.
I'm lovin' it!