CNET First Look
Hiku Labs Hiku shopping list assistantThe Hiku uses voice recognition and bar code scanning to simplify grocery list-making, but we're not quite convinced a dedicated piece of hardware is the best way to go about it.
Hi. I'm Rich Brown for CNET. Today we're gonna take a look at the Hiku Labs Hiku. This little guy is actually a grocery-list-making assistant designed to use with your iPhone currently, although the company says they will expand into Android soon. The idea is that they can make list items on your iPhone app by speaking to the device or if you use the barcode reader. Now you wanna ask why you want a stand-alone device to build a grocery list and the reason Hiku Labs says is because this device makes it much easier. You don't have to pull out your smartphone, swipe, find the app, open the app, etc. With this you simply push the button and you either speak into it or swipe the product, it builds a list, you're gonna take that list to the store. So for example I can speak in the device and say "chocolate" and look on the list and chocolate will appear. Pretty simple. I can also use the barcode reader in the same way. So we push the button, you get the light and you swipe down the code. It pops up on the list automatically. Now in testing I found that both the voice recognition and the barcode scanning worked pretty well, but there's actually a few features in here that make this a little bit more interesting. If I swipe a barcode the Hiku doesn't recognize I'll get a tiny little beep that will let me know it hasn't shown up. Then the next time I can push the button, say the product, and it will associate my spoken instruction with that barcode. It then loads that information up into the Cloud and the Hiku can then reference that. So theoretically then for a company like Trader Joe's that doesn't make its UPC codes available, you could crowdsource that information and actually it works pretty well. Now Hiku Labs says that anybody can use this from an adult to a 5-year-old and well you probably wouldn't want a little kid getting his or her hands on this because the company says it's gonna be assigning a shopping service to the app soon which means that you'll be able to make a list, purchase from the app directly. It hasn't rolled that out yet, still working on it but heads up. Because that forthcoming shopping service as well as some software and firmware hopefully it's down the road. The company has still clung to its beta hardware. That's a little bit strange considering that they want you to pay for it. So it's gonna cost $79 for you to essentially get previous hardware. We're used to seeing that kind of model from crowd-funded hardware but not from hardware that's directly available for sale from the vendor. Overall this definitely seems a little bit gimmicky, and I can't see it being that much more convenient than a pen and paper for basic list making. But it terms with the in-app shopping service there's definitely some potential here and I'm really interested to see how that develops. I'm Rich Brown. This is Hiku Labs Hiku.