LG Electronics’ main focus at this year’s CES was the introduction of its first smart robots powered by its in-house AI platform ThinkQ, including the voice-activated robot assistant and smart home hub LG CLOi, but instead of showcasing its full capabilities on stage, CLOi repeatedly ran into issues and became unresponsive during its debut presentation. CLOi has been touted as a smart robot hub that is simple to use, and although it kicked off its Monday presentation following the schedule, it eventually froze up on stage and ignored three requests in a row. Although these types of scenarios can occur when presenting a new, unreleased product, the development suggested even the most cutting-edge solutions in the category still aren't able to offer a user experience that's close to being perfect, even in relatively controlled environments.
CES 2018 began on a positive note for LG, with the CLOi robot offering some insight into the company’s latest efforts for home automation and AI development. The smart robot at hand was created to sit at the center of a user's connected home and was designed on purpose to have expressive "eyes" with various animations that change depending on context. The robot features voice recognition capabilities and should be able to control a wide variety of appliances in a smart home. As an example of what it's capable of, during the CES presentation, LG's David VanderWaal asked CLOi for his schedule and the AI quickly complied, as one would expect. However, when asked to interact in more meaning full ways later during the demonstration, the robot failed to understand three subsequent queries related to a washing machine, dinner plans, and suggestions for chicken recipes. The initial hiccup was seen as a simple glitch, but as CLOi failed to react for a third time in a row, it became evident that something was not working as intended.
LG continued its presentation, perhaps not as scheduled, but eventually the company did showcase three additional larger-scale robots meant for enterprise – somewhat similar to SoftBank's Pepper but without a humanoid form factor – including the Porter Robot designed to carry luggage, the Shopping Cart Robot equipped with a barcode scanner to help supermarket visitors manage their shopping lists, and the Serving Robot created to deliver meals in airport lounges and restaurants. As yet it's unclear when LG intends on launching these enterprise solutions, but CLOi will reportedly reach the market by June.