CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Smart Home

At CES, the Rokid Pebble adds a personal touch to digital assistance

The Rokid Pebble brings a few new tricks to CES to help it stand out as more than just an Amazon Echo copycat.

Now playing: Watch this: Forget Alexa or Siri, let Rokid's Melody plan your life
0:49

If the Rokid Pebble works as promised, maybe the name Melody will become just as recognizable as Alexa or Siri. If not, this aptly named spherical assistant could be just another Amazon Echo wannabe.

Launching this summer in the US, the Pebble listens for you to say the wake word "Melody," then responds to your commands. Much like the Echo and Alexa, you don't have to touch the Pebble, just talk to it, and it'll add items to your calendar, play music, and control your smart home.

Playing Echo's game

The Pebble looks capable as an entertainer -- you'll be able to stream music from Spotify and iHeartRadio -- and as a smart home controller -- it'll work with Nest, Philips Hue, Wink and IFTTT at launch with a SmartThings integration in the works. The Pebble will chart its own course by being able to recognize your voice and customize its responses accordingly.

Forging its own path

Because it can recognize voices, the Pebble should be able to beat the Echo as a personal assistant. You can train Melody to do different things when you greet it as opposed to when your significant other does. So simply by saying "Melody, hello," it'll set the thermostat, turn on the lights, and follow any other preset commands you've specified. If your significant other says the same thing, Melody can greet him or her by name and do an entirely different set of commands.

rokid-product-photos-1.jpg

The Pebble at CES 2017.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Rokid's Melody also looks to be quite good at keeping your calendar organized. While Alexa, Siri and the Google Assistant are rudimentary at best at helping you manage your schedule, Melody will be able to sync all of your individual calendars, and all of the calendars for your entire family. Then, Melody can check them all and let you know when you're all free.

Melody's duo

rokid-product-photos-1.jpg

The Rokid Alien.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The Pebble is the second assistant from tech startup Rokid. The first -- the Rokid Alien -- has been available in China since April. The Alien functions much like the Pebble, only it also has a screen and a camera. The camera can recognize your face and the screen can display additional context and info if you ask it a question.

Both the Pebble and the Alien will be available for purchase in the US starting this summer, though Rokid doesn't yet have pricing information for either. Both also have a small battery that'll keep them powered for around two hours, making them more mobile than the Amazon Echo -- which always has to stay plugged in.

Outlook

Between the Amazon Echo, the Google Home and Siri's HomeKit on your iPhone, you already have lots of options for a digital assistant. At CES, we've seen many more contenders that want to vie for that position, so the Rokid Pebble will need to be affordable and polished if it hopes to have a chance of standing out among tough competition. The promise of individualized assistance for multiple users is enticing, though, and if it can help you and your family organize your lives, Melody might well earn her way toward the front of the bunch.

Best Smart Home Devices for 2019

See All