The Bunny with an API

A week ago I learned about a cute bunny with an unpronounceable name: Nabaztag. With its persistent WiFi-connection, a complete web application to feed it with data and even an open API, it's needless to say I couldn't resist getting one.

Apart from its lovely bunny ears that it can wiggle at will, it's equipped with a couple of RGB LEDs (yes, there are 3 emitters per LED, forming a formidable RGB gamut), an RFID reader, a microphone for voice recognition and a speaker. This allows for a couple of really cool tricks it can perform.

Its ears and LEDs are perfectly suited for a very calm (as some researchers put it) way of relaying information about events around me to my perceptive periphery: As an example, a LED or ear movement choreography can tell me whether rain is expected in the next couple of hours, or how my stock portfolio is doing right now, or that I should get ready to leave for an appointment soon. It's like the well-known art-piece-evolved-into-consumer-product AmbientOrb, only more useful and fun.

There's even an app that can "marry" two bunnies, so that when one's ears are moved, the other one's are moved to the same position, no matter where the two bunnies are geographically. This is meant to be used by lovers as a very subtle way of saying "I'm thinking of you" - adorable!

Similarly, you can use its speaker and text-to-speech capabilities to have it tell you little pieces of information aloud, such as the time of the day, a weather forecast, your latest tweets, or items from an RSS feed. It can even play podcasts, streaming radio or your own music.

Using the RFID reader and accompanying tags, you can also have it "sniff" your everyday things (keys, packs of cigarettes, xbox360 controllers, whatever) and provide context-sensitive information or tasks. Some people might have it set up so that it updates their twitter status when they're picking up their controllers to play a couple of games online, others might like to have it tell them items from their to-do list when they pick up their keys in the morning to leave - the possibilities are endless.

Apart from that, it can randomly blurp about its mood, do tai-chi exercises with its ears and a couple of other entertaining tricks.

From a technical perspective, setting it up was a breeze: It creates an ad-hoc WiFi network in configuration mode, allowing you to connect to it with your browser to supply your WiFi details. WEP and WPA (but not WPA2) encryption standards are supported. There was a problem with DNS-resolution on my Airport Extreme router, but the online FAQ had this one covered, so I was up and running in minutes.

By the way, here's a picture of the cute little bugger. I named him Kurt Gödel (or kurt.goedel, in canonical form) — I'm really that nerdy.

Georg Kaindl's nabaztag bunny

As if all of this wasn't already cool enough, there's also an open API available, so you can write your own apps and functionalities at will. This is, at least for me, the killer argument to adopt your own bunny.

Verdict: Highly recommended.