Bearbot is super cute. That’s really the bottom line for this growing Indiegogo project designed to make smart home control a lot more fun and customizable. The result is a little tech bear who wiggles his nose, yawns, occasionally sneezes, and is effortlessly one of the top universal remotes of 2019. If you seek value for money, then you may want to compare its features with the best cheap universal that we could look up during our research.
Beyond the cuteness, this little bear has infrared, Bluetooth, radio, and ZigBee sensors that are designed to work with pretty much any smart home device, from your HVAC to your TV. You “tame” the bear with a smartphone app that allows you to create commands and choose which sensor the bear will listen with for that particular command. But what’s really unique is the different ways that you can command it.
Eschewing the super popular voice commands of 2016, Bearbot offers a small remote and a sensor that recognizes finger movements. You can either program commands into the remote, or assign a specific hand gesture. Wave your finger in front of the bear’s belly, and he’ll obey. Slashing back and forth can changing tracks, for example, while drawing a quick X can turn devices off or swiping upward can switch to another device, etc. The logo of each appliance is shown on the belly when the bear is focused on it.
The sore spot here – and it’s really the only one – is that the battery life is really limited at only four hours in active recognition mode. You’ll want to keep the charger close at hand, and pull the Bearbot away for specific tasks, like settling down for a family movie time. The good news is that it uses a Qi induction charger, so you won’t need to worry about plugging and unplugging the charger every time you want to so something.
Keep in mind that as of writing this, Bearbot still has a ways to go before being totally successful. You can pay 75 Euros (the bear was born in Luxembourg) – around $85 dollars – to order one for 50% off the planned retail price.