LG CES 2019: 5G, proactive AI and rollable TVs
LG believes the future of AI is in predicting what you want before you even know you want it.
At the brisk time of 3:00am this morning, LG kicked off CES 2019 with a packed press conference covering everything from mobile networks to wall-spanning TVs.
The future of mobile networks
On the mobile front, LG made much ado about the impending rollout of 5G, which it insisted will become a reality in 2019. LG's CEO of marketing David Vanderwaal stated that the company plans to be among the first brands to launch a 5G smartphone this year, and to facilitate that, LG has been working closely with Qualcomm and its recently-unveiled Snapdragon 855 mobile platform. Snapdragon 855 is the first mobile processor to support 5G, and it's likely that any 5G-compatible LG phones will leverage it.
The second core pillar of LG's CES press conference was artificial intelligence. Vanderwaal's pitch went beyond the current view of AI, with the CEO believing that the ultimate goal of AI is to provide proactive recommendations based on user circumstances rather than simply responding to user requests.
To highlight how this approach differs from current AI implementations, LG provided an example wherein a user tells their air purifier to turn off. While that would be the end of the interaction for a traditional AI, LG's new ThinQ platform went one step further with Google Assistant asking the user whether the air purifier should turn back on in three hours when dust levels are forecast to increase.
These sorts of pre-emptive solutions rely on a lot of data. They combine user-specific information, like typical electricity usage, the TV shows you watch and how often you clean your house, with environmental data, like weather conditions and time-of-day, to offer suggestions tailored to your unique circumstances. They'll benefit from how invested you are in the LG ecosystem, too, with different LG devices able to communicate and share information. Vanderwaal's example here was to pick up an LG vacuum cleaner which triggered Google Assistant to offer to start the robot vacuum cleaner at the same time.
LG is also incorporating AI into its new customer service platform called LG ProActive Customer Care. This platform gives LG devices the capability to send real-time alerts to a user's phone, notifying them when the laundry has finished or when an error has been detected in the operation of a device. Malfunctioning devices can even offer suggestions on how their problems can be fixed, as well as recommend maintenance operations on a regular basis to avoid issues in the first place.
TVs have always played a prominent role in LG's business and the company used its CES presentation to unveil its largest OLED TV yet. Measuring in at a hefty 88 inches, the set will sport a resolution of 8K powered by 33 million self-emitting pixels. No word yet on pricing, but it wouldn't be surprising if it costs as much as a small car.
LG's emphasis on AI continues in the TV space. All its 2019 TVs will make use of a new Alpha 9 Gen 2 processor for dynamic content enhancement and optimisation. Using machine learning, the new TVs will recognise the kind of content they're displaying and apply visual processing techniques on a content-specific basis, smoothing out high-motion video or tweaking brightness in dark scenes. This extends to environmental conditions, too, with the TVs able to adjust brightness and colour tone settings based on ambient light levels, as well as equalise sound automatically based on the acoustics of the room they're installed in.
2019 will also see LG's TVs integrate Amazon Alexa into their smart home functionality. This is in addition to the existing support for Google Assistant. By combining the two, LG claims it is able to cover 84% of the smart home market.
Following in Samsung's footsteps, LG is also adding AirPlay support to its 2019 TVs, allowing you to stream movies and music from your iPhone or iPad directly to the TV. HomeKit support is baked in too, giving you the means to control other HomeKit-enabled devices from a new smart dashboard on the TV.
No CES presentation would be complete without a flashy gimmick, and LG delivered this in the form of the OLED TV R, a "rollable" OLED TV. This curious device is able to slide in and out of its base (built like a standard entertainment unit), reducing its visual footprint at the press of a button. Three usage modes are available: a standard full view with the TV completely rolled out, a "line view" where the TV slides down to display a narrow bar of options including a music browser, a clock and a carousel for displaying personal photos, and the "Zero" mode where the TV is fully retracted into its base. Thanks to a 4.1 soundbar built into the base, the TV is able to play music even in Zero mode, which is kind of neat.
Those were all the big announcements that LG made at its press conference, but stay tuned to our CES 2019 hub for more news from the rest of the event.