LAS VEGAS — The battle of voice assistant platforms has begun at CES 2018, pitting the Google Assistant versus Amazon’s Alexa in a race to see which voice assistant can win over consumer electronics makers and ultimately home consumers.
LG wants consumers to be able to control home appliances and devices using natural voice commands, and today demonstrated a major bet on the Google Assistant, showing off the LG AI TV, ThinQ smart speakers and Tone headphones all with Google Assistant.
LG invited Scott Huffman, Vice President of Engineering for Google Assistant to highlight the partnership between LG and Google.
“Our collaboration with LG, which began on phones, has continued over the last year and a half,” said Huffman. “Because of LG’s breadth of products, we’ve been able to work together on all kinds of devices including LG watches, OLED TVs, refrigerators, washing machines, ovens, air conditioners and more.”
Integration of voice assistant technology is not new for LG, but their first partner was actually Amazon. At last year’s CES, they demonstrated integration of Amazon’s Alexa into their smart refrigerator, showing how consumers could re-order groceries using voice commands. That fridge, now called the InstaView ThinQ refrigerator with a massive 29-inch touchscreen, still supports Alexa and shows the voice platform dilemma that electronics makers now face.
Despite the heavy dose of Google Assistant integration in today’s presentation, I.P Park, President and Chief Technology Officer of LG Electronics, emphasized the company’s open approach and was quick to mention Amazon. “With our open partnership strategy, we are working with prominent partners such as Google and Amazon for general services in AI,” said Park.
Consumer electronics makers like LG want to sell you more appliances and devices, and voice assistant integration is a nifty way to convince you, but which platform will they ultimately support? If you are an a Alexa-powered home, will your allegiance lie with particular home electronics that support Alexa, or will this ecosystem evolve where multiple voice assistants like Alexa and Google co-exist on the same device?
We anticipate an onslaught of consumer electronics maker announcements around both Alexa and Google Assistant this week, meaning this confusion for consumers is going to get worse before it gets better, as we are clearly in the early days of a new platform war for voice assistant technologies.