LG is echoing the Echo.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then LG is paying a major compliment to Amazon by making its already Echo-esque SmartThinQ Hub even more like the Echo. Not only does it look like an Echo and work like an Echo, it now talks like an Echo, too. Or at least, it will let you talk to it in the same way you’d talk to Echo. That’s right — the SmartThinQ Hub now boasts Alexa support.
The smart home controller, which was first debuted at CES, is seriously not interested in reinventing the wheel. As such, instead of making its own virtual assistant, it’s just tapping into Alexa’s functionality (though to be fair, in a limited capacity). To chat with Alexa, you’ll have to press a button on the LG hub, whereupon you’ll be able to ask Alexa to amend your schedule, play your favorite song, or check the forecast. You’ll also be able to command Alexa via a remote, which is again reminiscent of Echo’s capabilities with a Bluetooth remote.
Still, users won’t be able to take advantage of all Alexa has to offer (yet). Only basic functionality will be included in the LG hub. After all, you have to actually press a button to get it to work, which is so not Echo-esque.
The only case where button-pushing won’t be required arises when you’re trying to control other LG devices. But unless the entirety of your smart home is comprised of accessories from this single company, it’s unclear as to whether the SmartThinQ Hub is the strategic purchase, especially considering that it’s the same price as the Amazon Echo.
All the same, LG seems keen to take advantage of technology that’s already in play, and proven to work. “Collaborating with innovative industry leaders is our core strategy to make LG smart home solutions even more accessible and convenient to consumers,” said Jo Seong-jin, president of LG Electronics and Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “We believe that differentiating our IoT technology through openness and collaboration will benefit far more customers than a closed system.”