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The silence of LG's CLOi robot at CES is deafening

It was supposed to be a live demo of the cute robot interacting with your smart appliances. But it didn't work out the way LG planned.

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LG VP David VanderWaal gets the silent treatment from the cute but shy CLOi robot onstage at CES Monday.

Sarah Tew/CNET

LG's CLOi robot got a case of stage fright. 

The adorable white, curvy CLOi, who stands less than a foot tall with a black circular face and glowing blue eyes, is supposed to act like the hub of your smart home. You can ask it to tweak the settings of your washing machines or pull up the recipe from your smart refrigerator.

At least, that was supposed to be the case during a live demonstration at LG's CES 2018 press conference at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

But when David VanderWaal, vice president of marketing for LG Electronics USA, asked CLOi for the ideal washing machine setting, he was met with silence. Once again, when standing next to an LG smart refrigerator, VanderWaal asked CLOi for a recipe and he got nothing. 

To VanderWaal's credit, he gamely rolled with it and tapped the fridge for the recipe. He joked that CLOi was mad at him and moved on. 

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But the snafu underscores the dangers of live events where things can -- and do -- go wrong.

CLOi and the growing family of smart appliances like air purifiers, refrigerators and washing machines, represent LG's push to invest in robotics and artificial intelligence. LG on Monday unveiled the ThinQ platform for artificial intelligence, which is supposed to enable your devices to learn your preferences and automatically change their settings. LG also showed off three concept robots that work as servers, porters and shopping carts. 

LG believes by upping the smarts of its products even further, the company will be able to get consumers onboard with the idea of connecting every little thing in their home. It's not a unique idea -- many companies at CES will be touting AI as a new feature and smart home tech is a hot trend at the show. 

"2018 will be a tipping point for the smart home," VanderWaal said.

The dilemma facing all of them is that many of the key benefits appear when you buy multiple products from the same company, meaning consumers will have to invest in a number of LG appliances. It's unclear whether consumers will make such a bet.

If LG wants consumers to take a serious look at CLOi, for instance, it'll have to get over its shyness.