Anyone who’s seen that Jony Ive Wallpaper cowl, which is actually a clean slate of white, will readily affiliate its stark simplicity with one peculiar development in trendy client tech design, one thing I’d name maximalist minimalism. You’ll discover it simply within the sensible audio system which might be rising considerable throughout us: Apple’s HomePod is only a rounded cylinder, Amazon’s newest Echo is a cylinder with a cloth cowl, and Google’s Home Mini retains the material however squashes the form right down to a donut. Basically, the extra characterless and unnoticeable a sensible speaker is, the extra happy its designers really feel.
Teenage Engineering goes within the diametrically other way with its newly unveiled H speaker, which seems like a stack of colourful plastic blocks hooked up to a vibrant crimson coiled wire. Hell, on first look, you won’t even ensure what the factor does. There’s an interactive LED array on the highest block, which could be indifferent from the bottom to supply each controls and cuteness on the transfer. The Swedish designers have partnered with Chinese big Baidu for this product, co-designing it with Raven Tech, an AI startup that Baidu acquired earlier this 12 months, and promoting it via Raven on-line retailer for ￥1,699 (roughly $256).
Intended just for the Chinese market, the Raven H runs Baidu’s DuerOS and, being a sensible speaker, it accepts voice instructions for a variety of capabilities beside taking part in music. It can management the sensible lighting in your house, name a taxi, seek for info, and in addition schedule actions similar to turning on the TV on the appropriate time so that you can watch the subsequent episode of your favourite televisual leisure. The voice controls additionally work with the opposite merchandise within the newly unveiled Raven line, one in every of which is a slightly zany robotic arm, co-designed with Teenage Engineering once more, titled Raven R.
The Raven R comes with the hyperbolic declare of getting “emotional intelligence,” although all that basically means is that it may — upon person command — specific a variety of feelings by gyrating its multi-jointed physique. It’s one other endearing use of expertise, although a much less clearly helpful one. The Raven R and an idea Raven Q “AI Home Robot” full the introductory trifecta of what Baidu appears to hope can be a rising ecosystem of AI merchandise for the house, although neither of the 2 has a worth or launch date but.
For the Raven H, Baidu has secured offers with InterContinental Hotels Group and residential decor retailer Jia.com. The cute speaker can be put in in 100 rooms on the InterContinental Beijing Sanlitun resort, a luxurious vacation spot the place most rooms price greater than the price of the speaker itself. Jia.com will present an extra outlet for Chinese patrons to accumulate the Raven H beside Raven’s personal on-line retailer.