Magic Cubic. Artificial Intelligence with character

    On November 21, the Russian company Cubic Robotics launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for its first gadgets - the intellectual Power Cube and the compact headset The Power Badge. At Indiegogo already raised 69 thousand dollars out of 100 thousand.

    “Cubic is not an application. Cubic is a friend, but with enormous powers. ”

    “ There is no artificial intelligence that would think without a program. This is complete nonsense, ”Sherlock Holmes said in one of the last episodes of the Elementary series. Russian developers from Cubic Robotics admit that the goal of creating a cube with character is not a successful Turing test, but full understanding with the owner of the device. After watching the Power Cube commercial, one gets the feeling that the future, like what we saw in the recent film “She,” has already come: this is probably why the money for implementing the idea comes to Indiegogo so quickly.

    “This video was shot by serious Californian guys. The budget for Russia is quite large, but nobody would have made such a video for such money. How was it filmed in the USA? Fast, fun, professional ”- Yuri Burov, one of the founders of Cubic Robotics

    Specifications Power Cube and The Power Badge are mediocre. The cube is equipped with a processor with a frequency of 1.5 GHz, a gigabyte of RAM, 8 GB of flash memory, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, a microphone and a speaker. The Power Badge has the same Bluetooth, microphone and speaker, and with them a 395 mAh battery (15 hours of talk, 300 hours of standby). Nothing unusual, but the essence is not in the hardware, but in the interface.

    “Cubic is not just a home gadget. This is the intellect itself, which is in the cloud ”- Yuri Burov

    The recently announced Amazon Echo smart column makes to-do lists, plays music, reads jokes and works as an alarm clock, but even this voice assistant seems like a toy compared to Cubic. The main quality of an intellectual cube with character is implantability in ecosystems and applications: now, a year before the premiere of a commercial sample, Cubic Robotics are ready to work with Jawbone, Fitbit, Gmail, Twitter, Facebook and many others.

    “So far no one has refused to cooperate with us, but all these companies cannot be called partners. For normal integration, we use an API that is publicly available. Tighter integration? It must be discussed ”- Yuri Burov

    The capabilities of the Cubic & Badge tandem are best listed as follows:

    • Talks with the owner in several languages;
    • The cube recognizes voice at a distance of up to 25 feet (7.5 meters), the headset has its own microphone;
    • It allows you to control almost everything that is at home: with the help of voice you can switch TV channels, browse social media feeds, choose food for delivery, send search queries to Google, publish tweets, follow the notes on the smartphone’s calendar and generate playlists (Cubic even positions itself as a personal DJ);
    • Thanks to cooperation with Nest (“smart” thermostat), heating is also controlled by voice commands;
    • Preparing the house for arrival (turn on the light, select the desired temperature, warm up food) is carried out remotely if you download the application from the Cubic list to your smartphone / tablet;
    • The software of both gadgets is regularly updated (the number of supported services expands with each new version of the software).

    “The Power Badge is not a weak point of our device. First, it’s easy to manage. Secondly, in the West there is a very strict attitude to using the phone while driving. They can be fined just because you are holding a smartphone in your hand. And the level of responsibility there is higher, so people prefer to use voice technology. And the voice interface itself is most relevant when your hands are busy with something. To call the same Siri, you need to clamp the button on your smartphone, which means that you get distracted from driving. In the case of our headset, everything is much simpler, you just need one touch ”- Yuri Burov

    Unlike Amazon Echo, Cubic easily talks in Russian: you can see this by watching a promotional video in which two cubes persuade Indiegogo visitors to vote for the project with money. “Like many of you, since childhood I dreamed of an electronic friend and assistant,” says Yuri Burov. In communicating in Russian, the character of the cube is manifested: in order to make phrases natural, the company has been working since the spring of 2012. The debugging was announced in May 2014: Samsung and KamAZ were already interested in the VOIS voice operating system.

    “Willingness to start production of the cube is 85 percent. We need money to continue engineering tests in China, to certify products. The cost of parts for one cube is $ 200, if we are talking about a circulation of 1000 pieces "Yuri Burov

    On the promo video of the cube (the first gadget with VOIS on board), everything looks pretty natural: according to the plot of the video, Cubic analyzes the temperature and offers a clothing style based not only on weather, but also on daily plans. Outside the house, The Power Badge's headset also maintains excellent dialogue: it discusses the Game of Thrones with the owner, reminds you of the date, and says everything you ask for (from the number of calories burned per day to the Dropbox login). Jokes, comments, remarks - Cubic completely copes with the role of an electronic friend.

    “We are not conceited, we see a lot of roughness in our product. Size is one of them, for example. But we believe that the product already needs to be released, because if you lick everything to perfect condition, the presentation may never take place. The best is the enemy of the good ”- Yuri Burov

    Speech recognition is implemented using the Yandex SpeechKit Cloud service: it can be integrated into any device. Apparently, the total vocabulary of the cube will be replenished along with updates, but if now the system so cheerfully constructs phrases in Russian, then in a year everything will be polished even better. The advantages of the device are obvious: simultaneous stationarity and mobility provide huge potential. It is easy to imagine how over time Cubic adapts to its owner and becomes his personal assistant, reproducing only the most important information and instantly fulfilling all requests.

    “Plans for the second version? Cubic 2.0 is the intelligence in your car, watch, helmet, and indeed anywhere. The main feature is seamlessness, that is, the presence of intelligence in several devices ”Yuri Burov

    As noted above, Cubic Robotics intend to launch on the market in November 2015. At the moment, there are seven donut options: from $ 10 (“contribution to history”) to $ 50 for booking, $ 99 for a Badge headset and $ 195 for a Home Cube, a cube and headset kit costs $ 249, and access to the SDK 109 dollars. Of course, the Cubic app is also included with the gadgets. It is better to hurry with the purchase: the authors of the project specify that in a few months the headset will cost $ 150, a cube - $ 299, and a set - 449 in the same currency. Accordingly, the final price of Cubic is $ 250 higher than the cost of its main competitor - Amazon Echo.

    “Over time, we hope to get into large networks such as Eldorado and M-Video, but this is most likely not to happen right away. We will start with more modest networks, we are already negotiating with some. West? In the US, there is a RadioShack store where they sell products for geeks. They may well become partners ”- Yuri Burov

    Author: Pavel Gorodnitsky

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