Teenage Engineering, smart speakers, China and cake
Teenage Engineering have found a new rabbit hole to disappear down. In a collaboration with Chinese company Raven, they’ve come up with some startling artificially intelligent smart speaker products. The stack of coasters is called “H” (presumably no Steps tie-in), and the red tubular thing is called R.
These are smart speakers, a bit like an Amazon Echo, where you can ask it questions and it will rummage around on the internet for the answers. Or it will play your music, give you the news, weather, that sort of thing. What’s interesting about H, other than the remarkable look, is that the top coaster is also a grid of LEDs which can give you visual feedback as well as audio. It’s all touch sensitive and full of microphones surrounding an internal speaker and battery pack. The top part can also be removed and act as a remote for the whole.
It looks odd and sort of exciting all at the same time. I have no idea what its connection is to cake.
Taking the same top layer but this time it’s picked up by a six-axis gimbal armed robot. This is the same idea in terms of being a smart speaker device that you talk to, but this one is articulate enough to emote through movement. It can look at you, follow you about and dance to your chosen music. It somehow manages to appear quite cute. I’m reminded of the anglepoise lamp from the early Pixar animations. It’s designed not to move itself about, but is rather an arm on a stationary platform.
Teenage Engineering CEO Jesper Kouthoofd says he’s a lot more enamoured with the technology coming out of China that what’s going on in Silicon Valley.
Everything comes from Silicon Valley… they dictate what’s cool in the tech world. I’ve been thinking for two years that it’s a little bit boring, it’s just one voice.
They feel that their unique sense of style and design can really bring something to China. Currently, the software and AI for H and R comes from Chinese tech giant Baidu and digital assistant company Raven Tech. They only operate in China and the services don’t work in other languages. So bringing this to a western home is going to have its challenges.
I like the concepts and the design. And I can imagine a stationary, interactive robot that doesn’t have to shamble about to be quite interesting. Teenage Engineering do have some great ideas but then I look at the OP-Z and how long they’ve been talking about it and it’s still not a real product. Although cruising their website does make you think that perhaps the music production side of their world is just a side project and maybe they have a different focus these days.
H should be ready for Christmas and R is still a prototype. They are hoping it won’t cost $2000.