Is Samsung, LG’s AI Offerings At CES Truly New Age or Hype?

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Samsung and LG have gone big on including artificial intelligence functionality in almost everything they are promoting at the CES global electronics show in Las Vegas.

AI, and in particular Generative AI, is indeed the flavour of the month at the show.

But is the AI functionality that these big tech firms promote truly revolutionary, moderately useful, a big gimmick, empty marketing hype, or a combination of all of these?

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LG smart home

 

LG at CES 2024LG CEO William Cho says the company’s AI can actually make a difference in the real world. He says AI technology is one of the most essential enablers to enhance the customer experience.

It’s true that AI already has and will continue to improve TV picture quality along with a range of other technologies such as Dolby Vision and HDR10+ and high dynamic range (HDR). Apple iPhones have used a form of AI to markedly improve image quality in user photos. AI recognises cloud, grass, trees, animals and other objects and can make adjustments accordingly. AI is already integrated into TV processors. The same argument applies to the production of sound.

It’s other devices where much of the 2024 AI is destined. In LG’s case, its new mobile robot “AI agent” can travel around a home, interact with occupants, detect and express emotions and use sensors to adjust home conditions, such as close an open smart window, manage internal climate control, know when to play your favourite music, and monitor and feed your pets. Add generative AI and it could hold a decent conversation.

I imagine in future you could ask your home robot to watch the 6 o’clock news for you or an episode of your favourite program and tell you the main points. Of course you could look up the details online.

You don’t need a walking robot to achieve some of this. Much of this functionality is available now through a smart hub. Google Home and Amazon Alexa could be trained to close windows if the windows can be operated remotely electronically, and you can buy automated climate control systems. But the packaging of these capabilities together into a moving robotic device might work. This technology is in its infancy and will radically improve over coming years.

Further, packaging all of this into a robot will promote brand loyalty.

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Samsung Ballie robot

Samsung’s Ballie robot – demonstrated in a promotional video – is based on a similar concept. Samsung has been promoting its SmartThings devices for years. At one level, SmartThings has existed as a downgraded version of Google Home and Amazon Alexa, with a smaller repertoire of voice commands. However Samsung has always had big plans for SmartThings as the cement that brings together smart appliances in the home.

Again this is largely motivated by branding and engendering loyalty to its product range. However SmartThings will enable some clever scenarios. At this year’s CES Samsung announced a collaboration with Tesla that will connect the SmartThings Energy app to Tesla products such as the Powerwall home battery, Solar Inverter, its Wall Connector charging solutions and electric vehicles. This will allow Samsung to display information relating to users’ energy production, storage and usage.

The clever stuff really begins once this system can monitor the weather and make changes to your home energy operation accordingly, such as automatically switch devices off knowing that a cyclone is imminent, or accelerate battery storage to forestall an expected power outage.

Samsung’s smart refrigerators are among several devices it announced with improved AI capability. Its four-door flex fridge could now identify 33 different types of food items and alert you when they are about to expire. It links with an updated version of the Samsung Food app. Meal preparation functionality is included with its new induction cooktop. Washing and drying laundry can now be handled by the one unit.

The success of this will depend on how reliably automated they are. We haven’t seen the world go crazy over smart fridges to date, but if they can correctly identify all the products, fruits and vegetables that are stored in your fridge, alert you correctly to an expiry date, offer food recipe suggestions that you really want, don’t make mistakes and truly save you time, they will.

Otherwise you will be disillusioned quickly if your fridge stinks of rotting food because the AI got it wrong. Those devices will remain in the domain of new adopters for a long time.

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