Smart home assistants are becoming more useful, but there’s something missing from our AI hubs from Amazon and Google. Sure, it’s fun to call up Alexa or Google Assistant with nothing but a word — but the personalities are housed in speakers, which aren’t exactly dynamic, groundbreaking technology.
Where are the super-smart AI butlers we can interact with via multiple verbal and physical commands, like the ridiculously responsive screen-based AI systems in our favorite sci-fi movies like Minority Report and Iron Man?
A new in-home smart display and AI assistant might just be the first step to fulfilling those Tony Stark fantasies. Duo looks like just about any other mirror you’d hang on your living room wall — until you start giving it commands and swiping through its programs.
Duo will introduce you to the newest AI assistant to join the fold, Albert. Just call up the system with a verbal command, or swipe through the touchscreen. You can personalize it extensively, changing its gender, accent, even its name — but we’re guessing you won’t be able to transform it into a full-on superhero à la The Avengers.
Duo has a 27-inch full-HD 1080p display that’s 1.9-millimeters thick and weighs eight pounds, so it shouldn’t take too much effort to mount on most walls. Its five-point multi-touch screen looks to be responsive to casual swipes and pinches, but we haven’t had any hands-on time with the system to confirm.
The team behind Duo says it’s not just another connected device or standalone AI assistant to complement your smart home setup — it’s a full-on home computer system that’s housed in a mirror. They chose that form factor because it’s something you’d normally hang on a wall, so it’s there if you need it and easily blends into the decor when you’re not using it.
The computer can play music, videos, check the news, or turn into a virtual art gallery through its own native apps and others that can be downloaded from the Duo App Store. Its makers claim the system should work with just about any smart home product through integrations and apps, but there are no official brand partnerships as of now.
Duo gives developers a new playground as well, since the computer runs its own custom operating system, HomeOS. The Duo team has a specialized web-based HomeOS SDK for developers interested in building new apps for the system, and will ship pre-production Duo units to developers that pass through their application process.
Duo starts taking preorders Tuesday, with a target to ship in October. It’ll be interesting to see if the independent OS can build up enough support to create a truly useful AI butler. It will need a heavy dose of development power and official partnerships with other smart home suppliers to be truly useful — and we’ve seen other slick demos fall flat IRL.
But until we can make our own flight suits, this could be as close as we’ll get to living like Iron Man.