LG to Expand ThinQ AI to All Products and Introduces New AI Framework
Dr. IP Park, president and CTO of LGE, Monday said at a CES press conference that its ThinQ AI platform will “expand to include all IoT enabled products and services. Digital transformation [in the household] is about much more than a single device or two.” In short, ThinQ AI will be implemented into all of the company’s products but Park did not specify when that would happen.
Samsung announced at CES 2018 that it would integrate the Bixby voice assistant into all products by 2020 so it is not surprising that LG, as a global rival in household appliances, is following suit with its own AI solution underpinning its myriad products. AI and 5G, that is intelligence on devices and high-speed wireless connectivity, have emerged as the key technology themes at CES 2020.
LG’s AIX Framework
Prior to this year, ThinQ seemed like an adjunct to LG’s core product strategy showing up in various products but without a cohesive presence in the portfolio. LG attempted to remedy that situation by announcing ThinQ as a unifying capability across the portfolio and with the introduction of a new AI framework called AIX. Developed in conjunction with Element AI, the four levels were described by Element’s CEO Jean-Francois Gangé as:
- Efficiency – Device operation and interaction. LG says Alexa and Google Assistant are Level 1 because they merely facilitate interactions. Park likened their capabilities to LG’s ThinQ air conditioner. That’s a cold shoulder of an analogy for sure.
- Personalization – The ability to learn, develop memory and apply that knowledge to interactions based on pattern recognition distinguishes Level 2 from Level 1. Gagné said this is the ability to recognize you and distinguish you from another user. This allows the device or service to personalize the experience. Park offered the robot vacuum LG R9 as an example in that it maps your household to remember where to go and how to avoid getting stuck.
- Reasoning – Applying causality learning to make optimal decisions. This requires more devices to collect more data that can be applied to decision making. However, it can take action by assessing data and likely outcomes including the emotional state of the user.
- Exploration – This is based on gathering data through experimental learning. The AI will create hypotheses and then test them by exploring the world. Think of this as a truly independent
Park expressed enthusiasm for Level 3 and 4 solutions, but suggested they might be a long way off before becoming reality. In the near-term, you can expect LG to begin marketing their appliances as incorporating Level 1 or Level 2 AI from ThinQ.
LG and Element AI Strike Up Partnership
Also announced this week is a new collaboration between LG and Element AI. An Element AI media release says a Memorandum of Understanding was signed just prior to the LG presentation at CES and characterizes it as a strategic partnership.
The first step in this partnership effort has been the joint research initiative called Levels of AIX: AI’s Future and the Human Experience.
It appears that LG has only engaged element AI thus far to develop the AI framework that will underpin the company’s strategy. You could easily imagine this evolving into LG adopting Element AI software and solutions as new products are introduced and gaps in ThinQ capabilities are exposed. That would be a strong rationale for Element AI to support what looks more like a strategy consulting project upfront in order to drive a large software sales down the road.
Element AI, however, was not the only AI expert or company prominent during the LG press conference. Sanjay Dhawan, CEO of Cerence, and Stanford Professor and Landing AI founder Andrew Ng were also featured via video recording. LG appears to be approaching its AI initiative as a collaborative effort with a circle of technology leaders to augment its internal operations. That should give the company a much higher chance of success over time.
Mulitple Assistant World and Fierce Competition
The ThinQ and AIX announcements are further evidence that we are facing a multi-assistant world for at least the next few years. Every device maker and many consumer brands are already seeing the value of having their own AI-based assistant technology that can extend product features and enhance customer engagement.
For LG, its competition with Samsung makes this effort even more urgent. The question will be how long it will take for LG to catch up. Samsung painted a bold vision for AI, personalization, convenience, and digital health during a CES keynote. The appliance battleground is now a smart device war and AI is expected to be a key enabler of differentiation.