Smart assistants are the latest technology trend, as was evident at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas. This week, Lenovo released its Smart Assistant, that can turn on lights, play music and create to-do lists. The device uses Amazon’s virtual assistant technology, Alexa, for its functionality — and many other devices are also doing so. Alexa has only launched in the US and the UK. Cars, TVs, refrigerators are all using the technology.
The device has eight microphones which will allow it to listen to user commands from all angles and distances.
Reports say that as many as 10 to 15 million such devices are estimated to be in use by customers just in the beginning of 2017. According to research firm, Tractia, around 40 million homes will use a voice-activated digital assistant by 2021.
Here are some of the most interesting smart assistants that were announced at CES:
1. LG announced a robot which would use Alexa technology to act as a virtual assistant. It will be able to swivel and face whoever it is talking to.
The new Hub robot can automate tasks like picking out music for users, delay the start of laundry etc.
What’s good – The interface is designed to be very friendly and to recognise each distinct user, and even greet them in different ways. And though it is mobile, it is pretty friendly and non-intrusive.
What’s bad – Critics are saying that it sounds a lot like Amazon Echo.
DOOR IN DOOR FRIDGE
2. LG also announced the Smart InstaView Door-in-Door refrigerator so that users can order groceries from Amazon. It has a camera inside so you can see what you need, on the screen outside.
What’s good – You can see what is inside your fridge on your phone, and anytime without actually having to open it and check. Makes shopping a lot easier, doesn’t it?
What’s bad – It is expensive. You will have to decide if the perks are worth it. The cheapest fridges are around $5000.
3. Mattel launched its Aristotle smart assistant for children. The device can read to children, sing a baby back to sleep, play games and teach children manners. It also keeps track whether children complete their chores.
What’s good – In the world of smart assistants, this is an exciting and new concept. The app can help children with homework, according to their difficulty level by retrieving information from the web, and is a very sophisticated technology.
What’s bad – Monitoring children’s chores and taking on roles of parents is a bit out there, say some critics. Also, people have complained it is a bit slow.
4. Chinese company, Baidu also showcased its own virtual assistant “Little Fish” which will debut in the country later this year.
What’s good – The price is quite affordable, and will start at $300. It responds to a lot of words and turns its head while talking to you. You can also call Little Fish from your phone and see what its camera is seeing at home.
What’s bad – It has very little English support, as the company is still building out the content necessary for this functionality.
Amazon’s Alexa technology shone at the convention this year. But let’s not forget Google Home, which was launched last year, and is a smart speaker that allows users to control household devices through a central hub, and Apple’s Siri. Let’s see who wins in this race.
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