Mail.Ru Launches Capsule Mini Smart Speaker With LED Display
Russian internet giant Mail.Ru has rolled out a new scaled-down version of its Capsule smart speaker as the latest entry in the rapidly developing Russian smart device market. The new Capsule Mini (or Mini Capsule depending on the translation) includes an LED display for the time and other information and is integrated with the Marusia voice assistant and social media platform VKontakte (VK), both Mail.Ru products.
The Capsule Mini looks much like other smart entry-level smart speakers like the Echo Dot or Google Nest Mini, though London-based studio Layer designed it. Mail.Ru’s Marusia voice assistant is built into the smart speaker, operating within the company’s VK system to make calls, look up information, and play media, including offering music recommendations. The voice assistant can connect to food delivery services, and the release of the smart speaker was timed with Marusia adding the McDonald’s McDelivery app for ordering food. Marusia is used for smart home control as well, operating with devices from several dozen manufacturers.
The compact device stands out with the LED on the front, which adjusts in brightness depending on the ambient lighting and can display a clock, the weather, a timer countdown, and other numerical data. As can be seen in the gif above, the LEDs will even form the shape of a smiling face upon awakening, which Mail.Ru assures customers will appeal to children. The device is aimed squarely at families in most ways, especially those with children and other smart home devices.
“The Mini Capsule with a clock turned out beautiful and stylish: it will fit into every home and will delight all family members,” Mail.Ru head of voice assistants and smart devices Alexey Krivenkov said in a statement. “The Mini Capsule has magical AR-fairy tales for children, the station will read them together with parents. Play family quizzes and quests with the Mini Capsule. The station can also become the heart of a smart home. Name any of the tens of millions of music tracks from VK — and it will fill the whole room with beautiful sound.”
Mail.ru refers to the Capsule Mini as its second smart speaker, but the company did collaborate with smartphone maker Prestigio to release the Prestigio SmartVoice smart speaker late last year. The SmartVoice included Marusia but was designed more as an extension of a Prestigio phone. The Capsule Mini is a little more expensive at about $74, compared to the $52 SmartVoice, but still far less than the$110 original Capsule. It also comes with a three-month subscription to all of the VK services. That’s a crucial element to Mail.Ru’s strategy as marked by VK integrating Marusia into its system in March, supposedly the first full integration of a voice assistant with a social media platform, according to the company. VK does a lot to help Mail.Ru stand out when rivals like Yandex’s Alice and newer players like Tinkoff Bank’s Oleg and SberBank’s Salute all keep churning out new tech additional voice assistant features.
“Smart assistant Marusia is one of the central products of our VK ecosystem. It will be more convenient for people to explore the possibilities of the ecosystem with the help of voice technology,” Mail.Ru vice president of ecosystem Anna Artamonova said. “Now Marusia has a new home — the Mini Capsule, our second smart device. Thanks to this integration, users will have new options for quick access to entertainment, tools for development and solving everyday tasks within the VK ecosystem.”