It was a breakout year for the Amazon Echo, and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so it’s no wonder LG’s new SmartThinQ Hub looks an awful lot like the speaker-turned-smart-home-assistant. LG will introduce the hub at CES 2016, and it does have something that makes it a bit different from the Echo: a 3.5-inch color LCD display.
That screen can show you the weather, time, and your calendar, and the entire hub’s speakers can stream music from iHeartRadio stations or your phone via Bluetooth. The device will also “announce” notifications through the speakers. But those functions are secondary to its true purpose, controlling “washing machines, refrigerators, ovens, robotic vacuum cleaners, air conditioners, and a variety of sensors.” (It’s interesting robot vacuums were mentioned, considering LG plans to introduce its Hom-Bot Turbo+ at CES 2016, too. It acts as both a cleaner and security device, thanks to its included camera.) It can connect to SmartThinQ Sensors, which make your existing appliances a little smarter, via Wi-Fi, Zigbee, and Bluetooth.
The Hub is also compatible with other devices in AllJoyn Alliance, including Lowe’s Iris products. “The LG SmartThinQ Hub is just another example of the open approach we believe is the future of the smart home,” said Jo Seong-jin, president and CEO of the LG Electronics Home Appliance and Air Solution Company in a statement. “Openness and strong partnerships with industry leaders is what will make smart home technology more accessible and more convenient to consumers. And at the end of the day, that is what our smart home strategy is all about.”
It sounds like LG has a different vision for its hub than Amazon has for its Echo. While the latter’s Alexa capabilities make it a pretty good hands-free assistant, it doesn’t appear that you’ll be able to talk back to the SmartThinQ Hub.