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LG's home robot wants to be your future butler

An Amazon Alexa competitor that controls a crew of friends

The LG Hub Robot (L) and Mini are displayed at an LG press event for CES 2017 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on January 4, 2017, in Las Vegas.
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The LG Hub Robot (L) and Mini are displayed at an LG press event for CES 2017 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on January 4, 2017, in Las Vegas.

LG showed off a cadre of consumer robots today. Its LG Hub is similar to Amazon's Alexa, a stationary unit that is controlled by your voice. In fact, it's powered by the same software running on Alexa. But it has more personality, adding an animated face and swiveling to look at whoever it's talking to. It looks and feels a lot like the Jibo robot that was unveiled two years ago.

Beyond playing music and looking up the weather, it also acts a command and control unit for a number of different LG appliances. At its presentation onstage at CES this morning, LG showed the Hub bot preheating a connected oven, turning on your robotic vacuum, and controlling your autonomous lawnmower. There is a large version of the Hub which is your primary point of interaction, but LG is also selling mini versions of the Hub that, like the Amazon Dot, can be placed in different room around your house to enable voice control from anywhere.

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The Hub bot is consumer facing, but LG also showed off a larger version of the same robot that it hopes to deploy in airports and hotels. That robot can move around, answer questions, and provide directions.

LG emphasized that these new units would run cutting-edge AI that would allow them to learn about their owners and carry on conversations. "The Hub Robot is designed to respond to consumers using body language, such as nodding its head when answering simple questions, and is always aware of activities inside the home, such as when family members leave, come home and go to bed. And because the Hub Robot is able to distinguish different family members' faces with its camera, it can be programmed with a different greeting for each family member."