LG ThinQ is a Smart Speaker with Google Assistant Aboard

CES will no doubt bring an avalanche of new smart speakers and voice activated devices next month and LG is getting a head start with an announcement today. The LG ThinQ smart speaker with Google Assistant integration will be formally debuted at CES. In its announcement, LG is emphasizing both audio quality and Google Assistant.

LG will be using the stage at CES 2018 to announce its first premium smart AI audio product, the LG ThinQ Speaker, which not only produces high-quality sound but comes with Google Assistant built in.

The audio quality angle makes sense given that Google and other manufacturers already provide Assistant access and this device appears more likely to compete with JBL and SonosOne than entry-level smart speakers. The Meridian lossless audio capabilities will likely appeal to audiophiles if the price is right. Google Home Max is priced at $399 and the expected Apple HomePod will be $349. Those price points provide a lot of room for other high quality smart speakers to list between $150 – $300. Price and further device specification details are expected at CES.

Awkward LG Appliance Invocation

One thing that LG will need to work on is simplifying invocations to connect with its appliances. The media announcement highlights the ability to use ThinQ to control other LG branded devices. “For example, the LG ThinQ Speaker can be set to turn on an LG appliance with the simple spoken command, ‘OK Google, talk to LG, turn on the air purifier.’” That is a wake word (OK Google) followed by an Assistant app request (talk to LG), then followed by the command request (turn on the air purifier).

This architecture is highly flexible for Google, but LG will want it to be even simpler in the future for its customers. A good outcome will be if LG can get Google to allow users to select preferred settings for appliances so the “turn on air purifier” request automatically knows this is an LG device. That would mean there would be no need for the “talk to LG” phrase in the request. Even better, an automatic discovery feature by Google Assistant would ask the owner if that is their preferred device and bypass the need for a “talk to LG” request or to manually select the device in settings.

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