Russian internet company Yandex has announced the launch of its first hardware offering called Yandex.Station, an artificial intelligence-enabled speaker powered by the company's Russian-speaking digital assistant Alice. The smart speaker is specifically built for the Russian market, with the goal of introducing Yandex's intelligent assistant from mobile devices to Russian homes, according to Konstantin Kruglov, Director of Experimental Products at Yandex. The debut of Yandex.Station is expected to provide a unique multimedia home entertainment experience to Russian-speaking users.
Released on Android last October, Alice works in the same way as the Google Assistant and Alexa digital assistant as it's designed to facilitate a wide variety of everyday tasks like finding a local restaurant, checking for weather and news updates, and playing music. Users can also ask Alice for directions, set up a reminder, and search for information from the internet. According to Yandex, the intelligent assistant is supported by its machine learning algorithms which receive improvements on a regular basis by learning from a user's behavior and queries over time. Equipped with Alice, Yandex.Station is capable of doing many tasks such as playing music and streaming videos like TV shows and movies, which will be displayed on a connected device through the smart speaker's HDMI port. This capability is courtesy of audio and video functionalities included in the smart speaker. Current video offerings include content from Yandex's video streaming service and other premium local video service providers in the country.
Yandex.Station ships with seven microphones to grasp voice commands and its speaker grill can be removed for users seeking to hear the device's pure sound. Its acoustic features include two 20mm 10W tweeter drivers, an 85mm 30W woofer driver, and two 95mm passive radiators. It also works with Bluetooth speakers. Yandex.Station measures 14 by 14 by 23cm with a total system power of 50W. The smart speaker will start rolling out to consumers in the summer at 9,990 rubles, which translates to $160. Purchasing the product will entitle customers to a one-year free subscription to Yandex.Plus, a bundled offering which includes the full features of Yandex.Music and ad-free KinoPoisk video streaming. The package also includes discounts for Yandex.Taxi and Yandex.Drive, among other services offered by Yandex.