Another day, another Kickstarter project. This one actually looks like it could have potential, though. Ubi is an Android-powered speaker system that connects to your local WiFi network. The small black box plugs into a power outlet and is controlled primarily via voice. It comes equipped with colored LEDs for notifications, and an array of sensors including temperature, humidity, air pressure, and ambient light. To round out the specs, the box packs a full-size USB port and a 3.5mm audio jack. Couple all that with an open development platform and the potential is nigh on limitless.

The device appears to be built largely around Google's voice actions and search. It's unclear just how well it could integrate with things like Google Now, though. Would it be able to let you know how long you have to get to your next appointment, for example? Hard to say. It may also be too early to ask. The development still seems to be in the beginning stages, and it's not obvious just how much the Ubi team hopes third-party developers will pick up the slack.

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The observant among you will notice a lot of hesitant language in this article, and for good reason. The demo video shows exactly two examples of voice actions in use. Convincing users to spend $150 or more on a device so they can ask how many ounces are in a cup could be a hard sell, so the success of this device will depend largely on what else it could do.

The list of apps the team hopes to launch the Ubi with is impressive, if they can deliver. Functions include a baby monitor, climate control (coupled with a device like the Nest), and even a speakerphone. It's unclear just how this thing would make phone calls. Would it be via Google Talk's voice chat, Skype, or some other VoIP service? There are a lot of questions that need to be answered before we could say this little black box would be successful.

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Still, voice control is a growing trend. As software for interpreting natural language commands gets smarter, it nears inevitability that a device like this will do well in the market in some form or another. Whether this is the one or if we'll have to wait a bit longer before our houses start answering questions for us is up to the devs and Kickstarter supporters now.

Source: Kickstarter

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • moelsen8

    kind of getting sick of hearing about all these kickstarter projects every day..

    • fritish

      I'm not sick of hearing of kickstarter projects. I love hearing about interesting projects people are dreaming up.

      • moelsen8

        no it's cool it's just like overload sometimes though. it seems like everyone and their grandmother is doing a kickstarter project these days.

        • fritish

          What?! A polite and nice reply to a comment on the internet!? How novel! :)
          Seriously though, I get what you're saying too. There are a lot of half-baked Kickstarter projects floating around. Most of them I don't care about, and even the ones that do interest me, I don't usually fund.

    • MattEden

      You're sick of people actually going out there and using Android in new, unique and potentially powerful ways? I'm not. Sure every Kickstarter won't change the world but this is exactly why I love Android and what was promised us when it first came out. I am always glad when I see another interesting idea tried in the marketplace even if I don't think I would ever use it because it shows just how much potential the openess of Android has when combined with human ingenuity.

      • moelsen8

        yeah i agree with you, but again, i'm getting like kickstarter overload lately.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Kickstarter gives the opportunity to make some inventors' dreams a reality in a way that was impossible before. I hear on the information overload, but you're basically saying you're sick of hearing about all this cool awesome stuff that just keeps on coming. Kickstarter is a revolution.

      • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

        I agree with this view of it, but I'm getting a bit annoyed with how many Kickstarter projects are turning up from people who've actually got the money and capability to deliver the product and they are really just using Kickstarter as a way to make pre-sales. In a way, some of those Kickstarter projects are being used as advertising rather than real efforts to get something new off the ground. The real problem is, the signal-to-noise ratio is getting worse.

        Note: I'm talking about Kickstarter in general, not referencing the Ubi project at all.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          I definitely agree with that, and it's inevitable, but it's up to us to weed out the crap and support the ones who truly deserve it. And as for AP staff, it's up to us to not promote crap.

      • moelsen8

        Fair enough. Bad choice of words on my part.

  • http://www.facebook.com/drake.hand.9 Drake Hand

    This is a brilliant concept. Now if only it works correctly the first time... -_-

  • http://www.anivision.org/ Christopher Bailey (Xcom923)

    it's a nice concept but they need to use JB instead of whatever version of android they are using (voice sounds a lot better)

    • http://twitter.com/thepowerofscott Scott Nienhuis

      Read the Kickstarter.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Kickstarter says JB, but by the time it's ready who knows what version of Android will be out.

  • http://seanslater.com/ Sean Slater

    I'm in - will be interesting to see how it pans out.

  • http://twitter.com/yellowspyder Spyder Ryder

    Did anyone fund the new Phosphor watches kickstarter? I did.

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

      Just looked at it. I'm not interested in this one because the watch doesn't do anything particularly interesting. It's just a regular multi-function watch that uses a touchscreen instead of buttons (which is a serious improvement), but it'll never do any more than they are showing in the video. I bought into Pebble because there's going to be a huge amount of development and hacking done with that thing, so I think it'll be really cool.

      One thing I have to say, and I ranted about this on an old AP article about the Pebble, the Phosphor watches actually look decent. I think the Pebble is fairly ugly, while these have a decent sense of style. I'm not in love with the look of Phosphor, but it's a lot better than Pebble. I just wish they didn't show off so many pictures with the gawdy bright plastic bands...

      btw, here's a link to the project we're talking about, in case anybody else is curious: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/touchtime/touch-time-digital-watch-with-touch-screen?ref=live

  • mgamerz

    Seems really expensive for not having a screen.

  • mgamerz

    Looks interesting, however a bit too expensive to justify it. The Ouya felt like it does more. However, with a good dev community, I can see this working well. Like a baby monitor. Or a wireless speaker.