Ubi Computer Let's You Talk To Your HouseDecember 08, 2014
By Ryan West
We all knew the day would come when we could talk to our house just like the Star Trek crew talk to the computer of the Enterprise. That day is, more or less, here. Ubi is a small always-on house computer that listens for commands and then follows instructions.
The Ubi is a small computer (roughly 4" x 4" and 1" thick) that plugs into the wall in the room where you hang out the most. It has two built-in microphones that are always listening for commands. By saying "OK Ubi", the Ubi will wake up and listen to your command. Once the command is received, Ubi can communicate with the Internet using WiFi. Ubi can also communicate with several home automation protocols and devices, such as Nest, SmartThings, IFTTT, WeMo and more.
Typical commands that Ubi can understand are setting alarms, setting appointments (Ubi works with Google Calendar) and even sending a text message or an email. Since Ubi communicates with several home automation systems, you may tell Ubi to turn up the temperature or turn off a light. You can even ask for streaming music to play.
Ubi has a voice (actually, a couple of female voices) and will respond to let you know that commands have been completed. Ubi will also alert you to specific events, like an approaching Calendar appointment or a message sent from somebody outside the house.
In addition to a voice, Ubi has several built-in sensors that measure temperature, light, humidity and pressure. These sensors can be used to send you alerts when anomalies are detected or you can check in on the house from an app if you happen to be away.
The Ubi seems like the future we've all been waiting for where we simply tell our house what we want and it responds. However, it's early in the life cycle and there are sure to be a few areas that will need advancement.
For example, having an Ubi in the most used room in the house is great, but what happens when you're more than eight feet away from it (like in another room) and want to talk to the Ubi? It is possible to have multiple Ubi units around the house and messages will be relayed from one to the other. Supposedly, an app is on the way that will allow you to use your phone to relay commands to Ubi.
What seems more optimum is to have something akin to the Star Trek communicator badge that we could wear. Maybe a Bluetooth microphone that we can pin on our clothes so we don't have to fish our phone out of out pocket to voice a request.
Overall, the Ubi seems like it's on the right track. Whether Google (with Google Now) or Apple (with Siri) will jump into this sector remains to be seen.
The Ubi has a bright future. This is just the start and their development path has a lot of neat ideas on the map.
The Ubi is available for $299.
Image Credit: Ubi