LG’s CLoi is part robo-butler, part Amazon Echo – and it failed at both jobs at CES

LG’s new CLoi robots had a shaky debut at the company’s main press conference at CES 2018.

LG's CLoi is part robo-butler, part Amazon Echo - and it failed at both jobs at CES

The new robot, designed to showcase the firm’s ThinQ AI platform – software LG is building into its TVs and other products – repeatedly failed to respond to commands and questions from LG marketing chief David WanderWaal.
It isn’t the first time the “curse of the demo” has struck at major tech events, so I’m going to be charitable here and put it down to poor Wi-Fi, a noisy environment or just plain bad luck, because otherwise the CLoi looks like a very interesting proposition.

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LG’s cute robot which stands around 30cm tall and has a circular “face”, with bright blue animated features, has been designed by LG as a smart speaker with character. Just like the Google Home or Amazon Echo smart speakers, it’s supposed to be able to react to spoken instructions and requests, and control smart devices across the home. Instead of using Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa platforms like other companies, though, CLoi uses LG’s very own ThinQ system.

LG CLoi: CLoi in business

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And although the robot didn’t work all that well on stage, CLoi robots have already been put to use successfully in trials at Incheon International, South Korea’s largest airport, serving more than 7,500 people and travelled just under 400 miles, so it looks as if the press conference snafu was probably more of a temporary hitch.

LG is clearly pretty confident in its robotic approach to AI, announcing a further three new concept robots: the Porter, Server and Shopping Cart. These three robots are designed for businesses looking to help customers. The Porter helps customers find their rooms in hotels, the Server delivers food and drinks in restaurants, and the Shopping Cart robot helps customers scan products and carry groceries around supermarkets.

It’s all interesting stuff and it’s good to see LG attempting a different approach to the home-focused digital AI assistant. The problem the South Korean firm is likely to face, however, is that in order for customers to benefit from the CLoi’s full capabilities they’re going to have to invest in the full suite of other LG products.

lg_cloi_robot_first_look

That’s not a problem other companies supporting Alexa or Google Assistant will face as the ecosystem for those products is already firmly established. 

Still, the CLOi at least isn’t vapourware: it’s slated to go on sale in June 2018. Although UK pricing has yet to be revealed we’ll be sure to update this article when we find out.

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