​CES 2017: LG expands IoT scope with home gateway Hub Robot

LG Electronics has unveiled its new Hub Robot that uses Amazon's Alexa to communicate with other household smart devices.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

LG Hub Robot

Image: Supplied

LG Electronics has unveiled a new line-up of intelligent robots at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week, including a home robot that doubles as a smart home gateway and intelligent home notification centre.

The Hub Robot connects to other smart appliances and devices in the home, and uses the voice recognition technology of Amazon's Alexa to perform tasks such as turning on the air conditioner or changing a dryer cycle via verbal commands.

The Hub Robot can move and swivel in place, as well as express a wide range of emotions through a face on its display, which can also display information such as the contents of a user's refrigerator.

LG also said the robot is designed to respond to human body language, and is capable of nodding its head when answering simple questions. It is also aware when family members leave the house, return home, and go to bed, the company said.

To complement the Hub Robot, LG has also introduced mini robots -- extensions of the Hub Robot -- that can be placed in other rooms in the house and perform many of the same functions.

"LG has been involved in smart technology and robotics for many years with the HOM-BOT robot vacuum cleaner being our most visible consumer effort," said Song Dae-hyun, president of LG Electronics and Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. "Here at CES, we're demonstrating how we're taking the knowledge gleaned from years of research and applying that to various situations inside and outside the home."

The South Korean giant also announced it will soon be unveiling its Airport Guide Robot that will provide assistance to travellers at Seoul's Incheon International Airport. Information such as a passenger's flight boarding time, gate location, and the weather at their destination city will be provided to users after scanning their boarding pass in English, Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. The Airport Guide Robot can even escort lost or late travellers to their gates, LG said.

With airport innovation front of mind, LG also announced its Airport Cleaning Robot that is essentially a super-sized robot vacuum equipped with a large-capacity dust canister as well as multiple brushes and motors. Additionally, the company also unveiled a lawn mowing robot at CES.

Taiwanese giant Asus unveiled its own home robot Zenbo at Computex last year, touted as redefining the term "couch potato".

Larger than Hub Robot, Zembo can wheel itself around and respond to the "Hey Zenbo" phrase, as well as perform as a smart home hub.

Described by Asus chairman Jonney Shih as a "smart little companion", Zenbo's feature set was previously aimed at seniors and children, but has since been promoted as the smart device that can perform almost any mundane task throughout the house.

However, Zenbo is only available for pre-order in Taiwan.

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