Baidu is already known as "the Google of China." At CES 2018, the Chinese company wants another title: "the Alexa of China." To that end, Baidu's showing off a trio of smart home helpers here in Las Vegas: the Little Fish VSI Smart Speaker, the Sengled Smart Lamp Speaker and the PopIn Aladdin.
All three devices feature Baidu's AI, called DuerOS, and all three will respond to your voice commands, answer your questions and control smart home devices. That functionality is similar to Amazon's digital assistant Alexa, popularized by the Amazon Echo smart speaker. At this point, and Baidu looks to follow suit.
We actually saw an earlier version of theat last year's CES. The Little Fish VSI is basically Little Fish 2.0. It can cast content to your TV if you get a separate dongle (similar to what can do with ) and it now has more microphones to hear your commands more easily. Like the first, in addition to the usual tricks you'd expect from a device that takes after Alexa, Little Fish's camera will actually recognize your face and customize responses accordingly.
Both Alexa and Google's Assistant do this to an extent with voice commands, but neither yet employs facial recognition with their digital assistants. Otherwise, expect Little Fish to use its screen similarly to an Amazon Echo Show. You'll be able to watch videos, make video calls and see information relevant to your questions.
Oddly, the new version of Little Fish no longer has a swiveling head above a round body. I liked the personality of that design. This one's a much simpler, boxy shape, similar to the Echo Show.
The Sengled Smart Lamp Speaker is a lamp with DuerOS, while the PopIn Aladdin is a dome light that doubles as a projector. Both have built-in smart speakers. The lamp can cycle through multiple lighting modes to help set the mood including "night light, reading light and rainbow light." In all, Baidu claims this color changing lamp and smart speaker combo can be set to 16 million different color combinations. You might not need that many, but it's good to know the color options are flexible.
The projector plays your favorite shows through Baidu's streaming partners. It's actually targeted at small Japanese apartments that don't have room for a big screen TV. Doubling as a ceiling light itself, the projector also listens for your commands through DuerOS.
None of the devices are slated for release in the US as of yet. I hope they will be released beyond China and Japan at some point, as I'd certainly enjoy having a chat with my projector. We certainly have plenty of small apartments in the US that could benefit from a smart speaker and projector combo.
: We take a look at the smart home and appliance trends we expect to see this year.
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