Remember Nabaztag, those little rabbits that waved their ears to notify you whether you received an email, your stock was going down, or if North Korea has launched nuclear war against China? Well, now you can put those buggers – and anything else, really – onto the RFID-reading Mir:ror and then program interactions with everyday objects.
The $29.95 kit includes two tiny rabbits and three RFID stamps. When you place an item on the mirror it registers the item online. They have a few clever ideas for how to use ztamps including opening computer files when you bring paper files up to the mirror or “keeping track of every time you use your tools, take your medication, or pour out a glass of Vodka.” Sadly, my mir:ror would probably wear out if we’re talking about that final use case.
The device is available now.
Introducing Mir:ror by Violet
Picture this: your umbrella gives you the weather forecast; your kid’s teddy bear reads him email you send him from the office; your pill box remembers the days and times when you’ve taken your medication; your customer files, full of paperwork, open Excel files of business in progress on their own; your jars of cosmetics give you personalized beauty advice; your action figures and art toyz teleport into virtual 3-D worlds; your ordinary paper books contain video appendices; your coffee mugs communicate on Facebook; Grandpa’s portrait sitting on the dresser can tell you about his genealogy and life story; that pretty shell you picked up on the beach brings back fond holiday memories in pictures and sounds…
Imagine that all you need to do this is as simple as showing the object to a mirror, a magic mirror that carries any ordinary object through the looking glass, a mirror that empowers daily things, making them interactive, connected, content-rich and communicant.
Introducing Mir:ror by Violet, the first totally user-friendly consumer RFID chip reader with entirely user-customizable functions.
It is also quite simply the first object reader, a reader that reveals our objects’ life, powers and memory. Moreover these once inert now living and communicative objects just speak up within their contextual use.
Violet has been pioneering the Internet of Things since 2003. It conquered the world With Nabaztag, the first Communicating Rabbit, and deeply changed accepted concepts of design, consumer electronics and Internet usages.
Violet has devised a simple, two-step strategy for the construction of an Internet of objects:
· One: connect the Rabbits.
· Two: connect everything else.
With Mir:ror, Step Two in Violet’s action plan is now starting.
- Mir:ror is a sleek white disk, circled by a halo of light, which connects to a Mac or PC via USB. When you bring an object fitted with a RFID chip close to its surface, it reacts, emits a sound to signal that it has detected it, then triggers the action or service associated to that particular object. We will see later on all of the actions it is capable of triggering.
Mir:ror owners can use:
- Any of their personal objects: by affixing a Ztamp to them, they become visible to the Mir:ror. Ztamp:s, by Violet, are brightly-coloured self-adhesive stamps containing RFID chips. Just like postage stamps have for centuries allowed objects to travel in the real world, through the postal system, Ztamp:s now allow them to travel on the Internet and its virtual worlds.
- Nano:ztags: these colourful cute micro-rabbits look just like their larger sibling Nabaztag. They are fitted with RFID chips and can be programmed and reprogrammed to perform user-selected tasks.
- Pre-Ztamped, pre-programmed objects: since November 2007, Violet has partnered with major publishers to design versions of their books fitted with Ztamp:s that trigger storytelling read out loud. And beyond the world of publishing, Violet will work with various industries in many other sectors to develop new versions of their products: with Ztamp:s, they can be enriched with multimedia content and interactive services.
- RFID objects already in circulation: for the Mir:ror, Violet has chosen to follow a standard called ISO 14443 A or B, simply because hundreds of millions of people all over the world already own objects which use this standard. For instance, it’s present in transportation cards, electronic keys etc. This means that users will immediately be able to use some of the things they already have in their pockets with their Mir:ror.
Programming one of these objects couldn’t be easier:
All you need to do is to show the object once to the Mir:ror. If no application has yet been assigned to it, the Mir:ror invites you to visit the violet.net website. There, users can browse a directory of available applications and services and select the ones they wish to assign to their object. They can add one or several applications to a single object. They can even decide the order in which they should be performed. All of this is done intuitively, without any tedious programming, simply drag-and-dropping small boxes on the computer screen. For instance, a user can choose to assign a set of tasks to their daughter’s doll, to be performed in the following order: the application that says good night to the little girl in her mother’s voice, then the one that reads a story, then the one that sends an email to dad to indicate that the bedtime story is finished.
Users can also enrich their existing objects with contextual applications.
They can add applications to any object, even ones that are pre-programmed (such as Ztamped Books) or designed for a specific use, such as a bus pass – for instance, this could be used to read the weather forecast or bus arrival time before you leave the house, while also wishing you a nice day in the voice of a loved one and reminding you to pick up stuff from the dry cleaner’s. And of course, you can always modify an object’s behaviour by returning to violet.net
Some types of tasks that the Mir:ror can perform:
- Launch local applications and files on a computer: The Mir:ror can automatically open any file located on your computer: music, images, videos, but also an Excel spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation. It also knows how to launch any application: open Skype with a person’s photograph you wish to attach, start a game with the hero’s action figure, display a calculator…
- Execute applications and files over the Internet: The Mir:ror is able to open your browser with a given URL, knows how to launch a video or audio stream, download images displayed on your screen, RSS feeds he reads out loud… So that when you want to hear the latest football scores, all you need to do is place your football or Panini card on your Mir:ror. It can also fetch a particular application that can record the number of uses for any object, memorize dates and times it has been seen etc.
- Send information to the outside world: The Mir:ror’s actions are not restricted to the computer to which it’s connected. It can detect an object and automatically send email to predefined recipients, data to a website, a social network such as Facebook or Twitter, or to any application accessible through the Internet specified by the user.
- Trigger any type of action on other objects by Violet, in particular Nabaztag:tag or other connected devices.
- Receive messages from the outside world: Every object is unique, and automatically receives an email address and inbox. It can therefore receive messages which are then read out to the user when they use their object. You can send an email to a key-ring, to remind its owner they are invited to the in-laws tonight! Your stately home’s Visitor’s Book can now contain much more than scribbled niceties: it can include spoken testimonials and audiovisual notes that your guests can send at any time after they’ve left.
- Eventually, some services will involve networked Mir:rors, for instance to allow them to remotely play together through the manipulation of physical objects.
- Violet plans to allow any developer to create their own original applications, designed for any real object, and to host them on the Violet platform. Thanks to a brand-new API, developers will be able to integrate the Mir:ror and physical objects with their own existing applications or web sites.
Applications are independent of the Mir:ror: All applications reside on the Violet platform, and are called upon by the Mir:ror at any time required. Thus, a single object, when shown to any Mir:ror, will perform the same applications. The objects are mobile and endowed with their own capabilities and memory. It is therefore possible to program an object and give it to someone else, to use it in different contexts etc. And finally, all Ztamp:s used with a Mir:ror also work with any Nabaztag:tag. Simply give the Rabbit an object to sniff, and it will perform any programmed applications in lights and sounds.
The Mir:ror detects objects up to a distance of a few centimetres: no physical contact is required. It is capable of recognizing several objects simultaneously and will eventually be able to perform complex applications, taking into account the combination of objects present. And finally, if the user wants their Mir:ror to stop detecting, all they need to do is turn it upside down to put it on hold.
A smart object broadcasting ambient information: Even when it isn’t detecting anything, and that no object is placed on it, the Mir:ror can inform. It is an ambient information device. Through its colour animations and variations in its luminous halo, it provides useful real-time information such as weather forecasts, market trends, or email alerts…
- Sleek and discreet, yet totally customizable: Mir:ror was designed to offer a large detection surface, for improved ease of use, while remaining unobtrusive and discreet on any desk. The design was kept deliberately minimal, so that it can fit into any environment. However, users can decide to personalize their device by adding Mirror:skins to the tray: brightly-coloured backgrounds, photos, graphics, anyone can style their Mir:ror to their taste and match it with their style.
- The platform and services offered by Violet for the Mir:ror are available in English, German, Spanish, French and Italian.
Violet co-founder Olivier Mével enthuses: “Everybody was curious to find out what object we would launch after Nabaztag, the Communicating rabbit. Were we going to design a Smart Mongoose, or a Smart Toadstool? That’s not the point! Violet’s vocation is not to add a few items to a closed circle of Internet-connected devices. We believe that all objects, whether electrical or totally inert, deserve to be connected”.
Rafi Haladjian, the other co-founder, adds: “We are still living in a world where information is trapped in a few of our objects. We stare into our screens, which are like goldfish bowls full of information swimming around, but unable to escape. At Violet, we dream of a world where information would be a butterfly, flitting freely all over the place, and occasionally landing on any of the objects we touch to give them life and enrich them. We want to breathe magic into the world around us. This is our idea of the Internet of Things, and the Mir:ror is the first step in this direction”.
The Mir:ror Pack contains one Mir:ror, one Mirror:skin, 3 blank Ztamp:s and 2 Nano:ztags. It will be available as of late October from retailers who already distribute Nabaztag as well as through www.violet.net.