Amazon doesn’t really want to sell you Echo connected home speakers. It wants to you to use the Echo to buy stuff from Amazon. So it makes sense that the company’s virtual voice-activated assistant Alexa is continuing to branch out into other manufacturer’s products that can then be used to purchase items from Amazon.
This morning, LG showed off its latest connected home appliances at CES 2017 in Las Vegas, including an upgrade to last-year’s headline-grabber — the fridge with a panel that becomes transparent when knocked on — that replaces that single-purpose panel with a multipurpose 29″ translucent LCD screen and full Amazon Alexa integration.
The new screen lets you leave notes for your family, tag the foods that have been stored and their use-by dates (even if those rarely give any indication of whether the food is still safe to eat), play music, and show you recipes on the screen.
It will even remind you when it’s someone’s birthday or anniversary.
Alexa can be used to control the screen, and play music, etc. — but the executive from Amazon jumped the gun during the presentation to point out that Alexa can also be used to buy stuff from your fridge from Amazon.
Of course, we don’t all buy everything from Amazon (yet). Some people do go to the store, at least to buy groceries. We do tend to forget exactly what’s in the fridge, leading us to buy items we already have or omitting items we need. To that end, the new LG fridge includes and internal camera with a panoramic lens so that users can remotely get a snapshot of what’s going on in their refrigerator while they are shopping.
LG’s Blinking Robot
Just like seemingly everyone else in the tech industry, LG has introduced a voice-activated connected home hub speaker thingy, dubbed the Home Hub.
The Hub uses Alexa’s voice tech, but takes it a bizarre step closer to the rim of the Uncanny Valley by adding in a pair of expressive, blinking LCD eyes, and responsive movements and swivels — it’s as if you combined an Echo speaker with a Teddy Ruxpin.
On the plus side, LG claims the Home Hub will allow you to control all of your various other connected devices in one place. We’ve heard that claim before, and it tends to be more of a hassle than just operating the different systems on their own, so we’ll reserve judgment on the Home Hub for now.