Stuffed-doll that reads emails

Regine pointed me on Ubi.ach, by Min Lee, Gilad Lotan, Chunxi Jiang. Close to the Nabaztag, it's a "ubiquitous, personalizable stuffed- doll that is able to read out your emails wirelessly and transmit voice messages" as the designers put it.

In search of using calm technology in our project, we have come up with a friendly-looking stuffed-rabbit that speaks out your gmail, according to your preset preferences on the web. This way, you do not have to solely rely on your personal computer to retrieve your emails. The user has the freedom to preset the importance of his emails, and categorize them as well as be alerted when a new email is received. They can also have personal messages recorded, allowing for the voice to be transmitted. Essentially, we have chosen to use RF (Radio Frequency) as a method to transmit and receive data between the doll and the internet, and a set of walkie talkies to output the emails using Text-to-speech technology, while also allowing for the use of personal speech. Radio Frequency can travel up to 125ft and the walkie talkies transmit and receive up to a distance of 5 miles.

An email is sent to, with either the word "alert" in the subject, the bunny will read the subject of that email. And a user can also record personal messages for the bunny to speak.

The ubi.ach is a hacked mechanical rabbit that dances around. Inside, there is a board with a microcontroller, radio frequency, LEDs and switches. There is also a walkie talkie that speaks out the emails. On the computer side is the receiver with a toy that is attached to the computer with a similiar board inside.

The project is better described here, the video is funny to watch.

Why do I blog this? a very simple object (one feature = reading email) but it's interesting to see that there are more and more design work around this issue of embedding interactions in a tangible device. The next step is to use this device also an input interaction device; a dimension which is somehow lacking even for the Nabaztag