Lenovo debuts smart speaker
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Lenovo has revealed a smart speaker called Lenovo Smart Assistant. The device acts as a smarthome hub that delivers entertainment, information and AI assistance services through voice commands, and controls IoT enabled devices around the house. Lenovo has tied up with Amazon to offer Alexa services from within the device. The smarthome hub category was initially started by Amazon with the Echo.
The Lenovo Smart Assistant would be third smart speaker integrated with Alexa, after Amazon’s own Echo and the Echo Dot. The Lenovo Smart Assistant is available in three colours, light gray, green and orange. The device offers some of the best features of both the Amazon Echo and Google Home. Lenovo is using Echo’s AI and providing colour options available with Google Home. Consumers can choose a colour option that best matches the interiors of a home.
Johnson Jia, Lenovo’s senior vice president, PC & Smart Device Business Group said “In the same way a person’s IQ is measured by applied knowledge, we believe products are ‘smart’ to the degree they’re actually understood and applied to daily life by their users.” Steve Rabuchin, vice president, Amazon Alexa said “We’re excited to work with an innovative company such as Lenovo to bring the Lenovo Smart Assistant with Alexa to customers this spring. At Amazon, we work hard to provide customers with as much choice as possible—and Lenovo’s new Smart Assistant speaker does just that through leveraging the power of Alexa Voice Services (AVS). We can’t wait for customers to try this out later this year.”
The Lenovo Smart Assistant has eight 360 degree far field microphones, that allow the device to interpret voice commands from as far away as sixteen feet. The microphones have noise supression and acoustic echo cancellation features built in. The device is meant to work with Lenovo smart home devices, but also supports third party IoT offerings.
Lenovo has another surprise up its sleeve. There is a special premium version of the Lenovo Smart Assistant, with speakers by Harman Kardon. Microsoft was also in the process of making a Cortana based smart speaker with Harman Kardon. The Microsoft smart speaker is expected to hit the market some time in 2017. It looks like 2017 will see Harman Kardon based smart speakers with both Cortana and Alexa.
The Lenovo Smart Assistant will be available from May 2017, for $129.99 (roughly Rs 8,862). The device is priced at par with Google Home, and is $30 cheaper than the Amazon Echo. The Lenovo Smart Assistant Harman Kardon Edition starts at $179.99 (roughly Rs 12,271), which is at par with the pricing of Amazon Echo.
LG has revealed plans of debuting a smart speaker at CES 2017, called the LG robot hub. A smaller version of the Echo, the Echo Dot landed last year. Google introduced its own smart speaker, with bases that could be swapped according to the environment, in 2016, called Google home. The category is growing quickly, and analyst firm Gartner estimates that Virtual Personal Assistant enabled wireless speakers will be a $2.1 billion market by 2020.