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This Robot Is Eager To Be Your Loyal Servant

Inspired by Iron Man’s digital butler, the Cubic makes your life easier by knowing everything about you.

We’re getting closer to having robot assistants that can truly do our bidding.

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Cubic, a new AI device, can tell you what to wear in the morning, read you emails in the car, turn on the lights before you get home, and order delivery–all by integrating with every imaginable wearable tech, mobile app, and Internet-connected device. It can also have a real conversation with you and even tell you jokes.

The device took inspiration from Iron Man’s digital butler, J.A.R.V.I.S.

“J.A.R.V.I.S. is proactive and has charisma,” says Cubic CEO Yuriy Burov. “J.A.R.V.I.S. is also omnipresent and a loyal digital servant. These characteristics of a true friend, who will remain loyal and helpful, led us to creation of Cubic.”

Here it is in action, in a short conversation:

At home, the robot lives in a small cube that can have a conversation from up to 25 feet away. As you cook, you can ask it to look up recipes, tell how many calories you burned via FitBit, or have it order extra ingredients. It can also adjust the lighting and temperature, lock the doors, put on some music, and text a friend, without you ever having to push a button or fiddle with an app on your phone.

The system also comes with a portable gadget that clips on to clothing, so it can keep working while you’re away from home–tweeting while you walk somewhere, reminding you where you parked your car, and turning on the heat before you get home.

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It’s similar to Amazon’s new Echo device, which also uses voice recognition to answer questions about the weather or news or play music. But because it comes with a portable version, it also might be useful outside of the house. And the biggest difference, the designers say, is that Cubic has a personality.


“We pay close attention to the digital assistant’s personality, its structure and preferences,” Burov says. “The end user should feel like he is interacting with a real person and not a device. … Our vision is the introduction and utilization of a superior interface that is as natural as a conversation with a friend.”

The developers have tried to make the conversation as natural as possible. Cubic remembers what you talked about the day before, can handle multiple topics at the same time, and even starts conversations on its own.

It’s a little like a more advanced version of Siri, but it isn’t married to Apple’s iOS. Cubic uses an open API, so it can integrate with devices or services using any platform. It can also work even if devices aren’t smart–the system comes with two radio transmitters that can attach to devices to wirelessly control them.

After three years of development, the team behind Cubic has a working prototype. They’re currently raising funds on Indiegogo, and plan to begin manufacturing the devices for release next fall.

Ultimately, the startup wants to make it easier to use of the technology we already have.

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“Cubic can serve as a unifying link between man and his various technologies,” Burov says. “In the future, the way we see it, we won’t have to rely on numerous apps and gadgets to operate home appliances, or order food via app on a phone or online. People will simply ask a digital assistant to take care of it, which will free up time for more interesting and important things.”

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About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley, and contributed to the second edition of the bestselling book "Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century."

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