A Virtual Butler Helps Around the House

Project Jarvis coomputer butlerEver watched the Jetsons and wished you had a Rosie at your house or apartment? Yeah, me too.

And apparently so did Boston resident Chad Barraford, whose Project Jarvis is pretty darn close to the robotic Girl Friday. Jarvis, however, isn't a robot. He's a sort of virtual butler, built using an old Mac Mini computer.

So what can Jarvis do?

Even without a body, Jarvis has full control over the apartment's lighting and climate controls. He can monitor Barraford's Netflix queue, check the pantry for groceries, watch CNN for breaking news items, track FedEx parcels -- and provide updates on all these things via text message or Twitter. With an attached webcam aimed at the interior of the apartment, Jarvis can even keep an eye on who's coming and going.

Barraford also suffers from migraines, and like any good butler would, Jarvis knows how to respond when his master isn't feeling well. He dutifully dims the lights, sends out emails to those who need to be informed, and updates Chad's Facebook page so friends know why he's inactive.

"That's great," you say, "but Rosie could cook, too." So can Jarvis. With a George Foreman Grill at his disposal, whipping up a quick bratwurst is no problem at all.{video below}

A better question might be what can't Jarvis do?

The really amazing thing is how much Project Jarvis has cost to build: less than $700. With plenty of home automation systems already available on the market for thousands of dollars (remember the one with the crazy remote the Osbournes could never figure out?) this is what makes Jarvis truly remarkable.

Jarvis doesn't need a fancy remote -- you just talk to, Twitter, or text him and and responds like a real butler would. He's the kind of digital assistant and home automation all of us can afford and understand. I can't be bothered with some cumbersome, flashy command center, but I think I could get used to conversing with Jarvis just fine.

I just hope my wife doesn't think I'm insane when she hears me asking the walls if I have any new email in my inbox...
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