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Meet Ubi, the tiny voice-activated computer that wants to control your smart home

Michael Brown | Oct. 16, 2014
Ubi responds to voice commands to adjust your thermostat, answer trivia questions, send text messages, and more.

Grebler told me UCIC has also been talking to, the SAAS (software as a service) provider that provides back-end services for home-security/home-control providers such as Vivint, Front Point Security, and many others. Sonos control is also in the Ubi development pipeline, according to Grebler.

The Ubi might be ubiquitous, but it's not omnipresent. Install it in the kitchen and there's a good chance it won't be able to hear you shout, "start the coffee maker," as you're getting out of the shower. "Out of the gate, it's a stand-alone unit," Grebler said when I asked him about this. "So you'd need to deploy one in each room you spend a lot of time in."

But Grebler also said they're working on an Android app that can turn your smartphone into an Ubi microphone. "If I'm on my sofa, I can talk to my phone and it will relay voice commands to the Ubi. You could also set up any Bluetooth speaker to be the Ubi's voice output. It wouldn't be easy, but it's possible."

You can do it!
Lest you get the impression the Ubi will be marketed only to diehard enthusiasts who don't mind doing a bit of high-level programming, Grebler insists the computer will be very easy to deploy. "Connecting it to Wi-Fi is all the technical knowledge one would need. It should be fairly simple for a non-techie to install. If you can set up a Gmail account, you can set up an Ubi."

UCIC is sending us an eval unit so we'll be able to put Ubi through its paces, and I'll have a full hands-on review soon. In the meantime, what do you think of the state of the Internet of Things market today? Are you interested in transforming your domicile into a smart home? Or do you think all this connected-home business is much ado about nothing? Let us know in the comments section, below.


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