Sunday, April 22, 2012

Karotz: A digital rabbit stands guard

4/22/2012

When we're out of town, we use a white rabbit keeping an eye on the place.

With a couple of clicks on my smart phone, the rabbit will send me a photo from the kitchen or the back yard. Sometimes it's a shot of the cats staring through a window at the bird feeders outside. The rabbit can also speak a short message that I type into the phone, though that trick is a lot more fun when there are people at home to hear it.

The magic rabbit, called Karotz, is more than just another electronic gadgets. It's creators call it "the world's first intelligent Internet companion."

Karotz is one tech-savvy bunny. Besides talking and taking pictures, Karotz will read news headlines, sports scores and weather reports, play music from Internet radio stations and give you verbal updates from your Facebook or Twitter accounts.

Karotz also listens. His voice recognition software responds to simple voice commands like "What's the weather forecast?" Karotz iasn't as smooth as Apple's Siri, but he comes close.

Like smart phones, Karotz can be customized with apps. The Karotz.com website has more than 100 free apps that deliver news from sources like Reuters and NPR, play games or tune in web radio broadcasts. Want to hear the Canadian national anthem? There's an app for that.

Karotz has a USB port on his backside for music files and it responds to little plastic keychain fobs called Flatnanoz that can be programmed to activate specific apps.

Not everything about Karotz is cute and cuddly. The setup process can be a little daunting, especially for non-techies, and the documentation could be better. But there's no arguing that Karoutz is something different.


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Follow me on Twitter @ricmanning and read my technology columns at My Well Being.

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