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09 Jan 2018

#CES2018: Google partners with LG, Sony for Assistant-powered "Smart Displays"

To stop Amazon's Alexa from taking over the smart speaker space, Google has -at the ongoing CES-2018 in Las Vegas- announced it's bringing the AI-powered Assistant to a ton of home speakers.

What caught attention were four Assistant-enabled tablet-like touchscreen smart speakers called "Smart Displays" from LG, Lenovo, Sony, and JBL.

These devices will be enabled by Google.

Here's more.

In context

Google brings Assistant to four "Smart Display" speakers
Smart Display has screen, but Echo Show already has one

Smart Display

Smart Display has screen, but Echo Show already has one

LG, Sony, Lenovo, and Samsung-owned JBL (through its Harman subsidiary) are bringing "new" speakers with screens. However, Amazon already launched Echo Show last year that comes with a display.

Simply put, "Smart Displays" combine smart speakers with tablet-like displays.

While the above companies announced they are producing speakers with Google Assistant, the Alphabet-owned company hasn't revealed any of its hardware plans at the time.

Voice Commands

New gadgets introduce screen to speakers

Smart Displays can obey voice commands and perform various tasks like setting alarms, playing music or videos, dimming lights, locking doors, etc. All the information related to the given commands is displayed on the screen.

However, users can't browse the Web and install apps as they do on tablets, as the gadgets are optimized for listening to voice input and sound quality.

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What we know so far about the Smart Displays


What we know so far about the Smart Displays

Lenovo's "Smart Display" will come in two variants: an 8-inch screen device for $200 (Rs. 12,700) and a 10.1-inch display device for $250 (Rs. 15,800). Powered by Qualcomm's SDA 624 SoC, the gadgets would include a 720p HD camera.

Meanwhile, JBL's Link View will feature an 8-inch display. It didn't provide any pricing information.

Details about LG and Sony's devices are not available yet.

YouTube videos, recipe information are top selling points

Google Assistant Product Director Gummi Hafsteinsson said playing YouTube videos and showing recipes would be the "top selling points" for Smart Displays. Other activities that these gadgets can perform include showing information about restaurants, launching video-calls over Google Duo, showing images from Google Photos, etc.


Amazon's Echo Show and Spot come with displays

Amazon pioneered the smart home speaker industry with Alexa-powered Echo in 2014. In Jun'17, Amazon unveiled Echo Show, an intelligent speaker with a display.

No other speaker was available with tablet-like screens. Even Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana aren't available for such gadgets.

Google Assistant-enabled Smart Displays are being considered the first challenge to Echo Show and the smaller Echo Spot with a screen.

Amazon, Google competing to get smart-speakers into millions of homes


Amazon, Google competing to get smart-speakers into millions of homes

In August, Google said it experimented with developing a Google Home version with a display.

The latest partnership with LG and others is vital for the tech-giant as it tries to catch up with Amazon in the smart speaker space.

The industry has huge potential, say experts. Research firm EMarketer estimates that 45 million people in the US will use home speakers in 2018.

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