Does the Ubi have the same capabilities as Android’s latent capabilities?
The Ubi will tie into many of the capabilities of Android for voice search and text to speech / speech to text. However, we’ll be adding quite a number of capabilities that will be required to use Android without any visual feedback or touch input. This means automatically switching between applications and driving events through voice input. It also means outputting through speech.
Can the Ubi be upgraded to newer versions of Android? How?
The Ubi is being designed to allow for later versions of Android to be automatically downloaded and installed. We’re working to ensure minimal disruption and physical input required to do this.
Does the Ubi support languages other than English?
Our current version of the Ubi supports English only. We plan on making other languages supported as Android is updated to support non-English voice input.
Can I change Ubi’s wake up command from “Ubi” to some other name like “sweetheart”, “Computer”, or “Hal”? Can I change how Ubi addresses me?
Yes! You can change the voice command prompt to whatever name you'd like.
Can Ubi work with other Android devices via wifi, such as devices that control TVs?
While we’re not planning on shipping Ubi with this functionality, the capability to connect to other Android or wifi devices is built in to the Ubi.
Since it has Bluetooth, can it pair with Siri and trigger Siri?
The Ubi will come with Bluetooth 4.0. While we don’t plan on having this feature available yet, we will be supplying an SDK that will give developers the ability to build apps that can do this.
Does it come with a built-in surge protector?
We're working on CE approval for the Ubi. This certification should give confidence for the Ubi to be used safely. We are planning on having surge protection / isolation built-in to the internal power supply. In short, yes!
Do any Android apps come together with Ubi? Can any apps be added?
The Ubi comes with its own app that wraps around the functionality of Android and ensures that it can be used without a screen or touch input (it’s handsfree, after all). We envision many Android apps specifically designed for screen free / handsfree input being developed and downloaded to the Ubi. These would need to be loaded onto the Ubi remotely through terminal access or through the Ubi app on another phone / computer.
Will the Ubi work with IFTTT?
We love IFTTT. We’re hoping to include the Ubi in the IFTTT recipes. Barring that, we’re developing a web portal that will have similar plugs and an API for connected to other software.
Will I need some type of service contract to use the Ubi?
No service contracts needed! The Ubi uses your own wireless Internet connection to go online. To call phones either in North America or overseas, you may require a Google Voice or other service account.
How are you addressing privacy concerns?
Since something that’s always listening can evoke a lot of privacy concerns, we’re making sure that we provide a lot of choice to enable or disable different features on the Ubi.
Ubi uses voice search in a similar manner to how Android devices and iPhones use voice search. While we plan on having the voice processed locally on the Ubi, some voice searches may go through Google servers to be processed for searches, similar to how Android phones function. This data is encrypted.
The Ubi can always be muted and the microphone disabled through voice commands or with the button on the front of the device. While the Ubi is always listening, it’s really listening for it’s name before it starts a search or activity. Saying “Ubi” alerts it to an upcoming command, like searching the Internet, making a call, etc.
Otherwise, unless the Ubi is setup to stream sound, the Ubi will not record actual sounds. However, the Ubi will stream sound level data (dB level). This information, along with temperature, humidity, and ambient light is encrypted and sent to a web portal we’re developing. It is possible to disable this feature or to stream this data to a different server, to Google Drive, or some other service. This information will not be shared with other sources and we do not plan on requiring a subscription for our pre-order customers.
What’s the state of voice recognition for Internet search?
We don’t believe a project like the Ubi would have been possible only a year ago but we’re confident that we’re now at a point where we can use existing services for speech recognition. Some examples of Google voice recognition in noisy environments can be seen here:
We also believe that this technology is now improving at a fast enough pace to make using the Ubi a better and better experience once it’s released:
What applications will be shipped with the Ubi?
Internet search, speakerphone (Google Talk or other services), indicator / event light, home speaker system, virtual assistant, alarm clock, intercom, room monitor, and sensor monitor. Coupling all these together will be an app that turns what would normally be displayed in text and graphics into voice. The Ubi will also handle downloading updates and apps from Google Play.
What is the range of the microphone? How far away can I stand from the Ubi and still be able to use it?
Our prototype’s microphone sensitivity is -40 dBV/Pa ±3 dB. In our tests, it could pick up regular volume voices from over 10 ft away.
How is Ubi different from my phone or tablet?
Smart phones, tablets, and the Ubi complement each other. There are, however, some fundamental differences in the capabilities and applications of the Ubi compared to other devices. Ubi is always on, always ready, always listening to its environment (unless you want it to close its ears). Phones and tablets need charging and require your hands to use. Ubi is meant to be placed in a fixed location and always accessible with voice whereas our phones are sometimes not the easiest things to find when we’re home. Also, when you leave home, Ubi is still there waiting for you and monitoring the environment.
Ubi comes packed with sensors that can be used for home automation and monitoring. It also has lights that can indicate different information.
Does my Ubi come with a warranty?
Yes, each Ubi comes with a one year warranty. We want to make sure whoever gets an Ubi is thrilled with it!
What is available for the developers?
Ubi is an open source computer and developers can hack and explore it to their liking. It is packed with easily accessible sensors and lights. Onboard are Wifi, USB, and bluetooth. And, we speak the language of open source developers, e.g. Android. You can even make your own peripherals for the Ubi or link it to other devices (we envision it connecting to Pebble, Twine, Sensordrone, and other Kickstarter projects).
We will be releasing an SDK with hooks into all the functionalities of the Ubi. More detail will be forthcoming on the SDK as our project progresses.
Does Ubi come with batteries?
The current version of the Ubi does not contain a battery. We are exploring the possibility of adding a battery for back up power in the event of a power outage.
Does the Ubi have any buttons?
Just in case, the Ubi has a button to override certain functions: You can mute or unmute the Ubi and turn off the microphone by pressing the button once (this can be done through voice as well). The Ubi can be powered off by holding down on the button for three seconds.
What happens if there’s a power outage or if I unplug the Ubi?
Just like restarting your computer or phone, the Ubi will keep all your applications and files saved and will load them after it restarts. The restart time is approximately two minutes.
Is there any limit on the number of Ubis I can use simultaneously?
You can have as many Ubis as the number of wall outlets in your home or office. The Ubi is designed to sync with other Ubis. You can treat them all as one entity.
How can I set up the Ubi for someone who’s not tech-savvy (e.g. my lovely grandma)? How can I setup the Ubi?
Very simple... just plug it in. OK, a little more... There are three ways of connecting the Ubi to the Internet:
- Voice: For almost all Wifi routers, you just have to power up the Ubi and say “Ubi, setup wifi”. The Ubi will ask you to select from a list of networks and then prompt you to spell the WEP code.
- Smartphone: By downloading the Ubi app for iPhone or Android, you can setup the Ubi by connecting from your phone to the newly plugged-in Ubi through Bluetooth. You can then select from a list of available networks and enter any necessary passwords.
- Old School Computer: From a PC or laptop, anyone can download a small file that will allow for setup and configuration of the Ubi.
What additional hardware do I need to make the Ubi work?
All you need is wireless Internet access and an available power outlet. You can access a lot of other hardware with the Ubi through Wifi, Bluetooth, and USB. You can also remotely access Ubi using your phone, tablet, PC, or laptop from anywhere in the world.
Does Ubi connect to my TV?
Our goal is to make Ubi affordable so that everyone can have at least one. In short... no, the Ubi can’t connect directly to your TV. We’re exploring future versions that may have this feature.
How can I access the sensor data in my Ubis?
There are a few different ways:
- By voice: “Ubi, what is the temperature in my child’s bedroom?” “Ubi, are the lights off in my basement?” Using your smartphone or tablet through the Ubi app.
- Online: the sensor data is logged and accessible through an Internet portal from anywhere in the world.
- By text/email: you can program the Ubi to text/email you based on triggers from sensor data.
What is the USB port for?
You can use the USB port to connect to: mass storage devices, cameras, additional sensors, home automation products, and whatever your imagination comes up with, you sneaky developer! You can also use the USB port for powering your phone or tablet or other devices.
How much power does the Ubi consume?
In normal mode, the Ubi should draw less than 3 W. When fully functioning and with the LEDs at full power, the level increases up to 10 W. We are investigating ways we can minimize power consumption while still streaming data from the Ubi.
How much storage is on board the Ubi?
The Ubi comes with 4 GB local storage. This is expandable through an internal microSD slot that can be accessed inside the Ubi.
How will the USB port function if I use a USB memory stick?
Adding a memory stick / storage device will allow for files to be remotely accessible, so you upload or download files to whatever memory device is connected to the Ubi. This will be accessible initially through the iPhone / Android portal rather than through voice.
Can I change the voice of the Ubi?
We are working to provide a selection of voices for reading back the Ubi voices. Sadly, Samuel L. Jackson has turned us down despite our offers of unlimited free Ubis.
Can I connect into the Ubi remotely?
Yes. Sometimes you just need to see what’s happening inside. We’re working on access via wifi.
What is the audio jack for?
We believe some people may want to use the Ubi to stream music. While we’re endeavouring to provide great sound quality, we know there are much bigger players in the field. We hope to provide stereo sound through this jack and it will bypass and disable the Ubis internal speakers.
Can I move an Ubi from one room to another?
Yes! You can unplug the Ubi and plug it in elsewhere. You’ll be able to rename the location of the Ubi by either using the Ubi app or through the Ubi portal.
What happens if I have a lousy Internet connection or my Internet goes down?
We’re working to preserve as much functionality as possible of the Ubi in the event that there’s an Internet outage. The Ubi, though, is an Internet device and requires a strong, healthy Internet connection. With a bad connection, voice quality during calls will suffer and there may be increased latency in getting the Ubi to respond or return search results.
We are working to allow for multiple Ubis to be able to work as their own network independent of an Internet connection. More on that to come...
When you say the Ubi can "control the temperature in your home perfectly", what do you mean?
We feel home heating and cooling has a long way to go and that our homes, especially in this respect, are really dumb. We’re loving devices like Nest that are making it possible to control heating and cooling in the home through the Internet.
The issue with most thermostats is that you have a single input - the temperature - usually found in the middle of the house or apartment. Since this is the only information used to actuate a furnace or air conditioning system, homes waste tons of energy and people end up really uncomfortable.
With more data, homes can better adapt. Having an Ubi in every room can allow for a much more detailed picture of heat flow and energy loss in the home, as you can tell how the temperature and humidity changes over time in different locations.
This information can then be used to turn a furnace on or off. With multiple Ubis, you can use the average temperature throughout the home as the feedback to a thermostat, rather than the temperature at one spot. Likewise, you can adjust the set point of the furnace or air conditioning depending on the humidity of the home.