Given that ZDNet is primarily for a business audience, I'm constantly on the lookout for those products that straddle the fence between work and play. Smartphones that can store pictures and movies of your kids while managing your corporate email inbox are one example of a technology that qualifies. Here at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, I believe I've found another. Not only can Violet's Nabaztag the digital rabbit serve as the perfect home accessory, it would do a pretty good job livening up the office as well.
What does Nabaztag do and how does it work?
From an industrial design point of view, Nabaztag looks like a plastic rabbit. But he (or is it she) is so much more. Inside the rabbit is a WiFi radio that allows it to communicate through any hotspot to the Internet. It's also over this WiFi connection that Nabaztag receives its programming and customization instructions from Violet's Web site where Nabaztag owners can go to program the rabbit to do certain things. Here's a short list of some of what Nabaztag does:
- The lights across it's belly can be programmed to move from left to right when the stock market is going up (or the other direction when it's going down)
- Nabaztag can "smell." An RFID sensor inside him can tell when a certain RFID tag is nearby and Nabaztag can be programmed to respond to that event in certain ways. For example, if you come home and drop your keys with an RFID tag on them near Nabaztag, that can be programmed to assume that means you've come home and it can send a message to a person or a distribution group to say so.
- Nabaztag can also tune into email and RSS feeds and, using a text-to-speech technology, Nabaztag can read those emails or RSS items as they come in. Once Nabaztag reads a message aloud, his nose lights up as a visual cue to you that he has read some messages aloud. This is just in case you weren't in the room when he read them. Then, you can just press a button to replay the message.
The product is so simple but so versatile that it's definitely one of the ones I'd go out to buy after seeing it here at the show. Here's the video: