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LG Electronics is showcasing a series of Google TV connected television sets at CES 2012, using LG hardware combined with the latest version of Google TV software (unofficially dubbed V2.0, introduced in the autumn) to meet demand from consumers who want a more interactive experience. “This will form the basis for future cooperation with Google,” Wayne Park, President and CEO of LG Electronics USA, declared at CES on Monday.
LG believes it can differentiate its Google TV solution from those of other CE vendors, like Sony, because of technologies like its Magic Remote next-generation remote control, its 3DTV capabilities and the sheer processing power available on the premium connected models entering the market this year, which will harness the new L9 Chipset that LG Electronics has developed for itself. This features a multi-core CPU/GPU and enables enhanced picture quality. Increasingly, the company believes that its television range generally will be boosted by the availability of Smart TV and 3DTV functionality in the same device, with half the product line up set to offer both capabilities.
LG is making major strides to make the user interface for its Smart TV products more compelling, harnessing both gesture control and voice recognition using the LG Magic Remote, which was launched last year but has now been upgraded. “This is a natural solution to text input. Searching through the endless content available on our Smart TVs will be easier than ever with voice recognition,” declared Dr Scott Ahn, President and CTO for LG Electronics. The company has also worked to make the Home Dashboard (central hub of the UI) more intuitive and easier to use with the aim of reducing the number of clicks needed to reach content. There is also enhanced search capability for the 2012 range of LG connected TVs.
Increasingly, LG Electronics is focused on how its various smart products can work together to create the smart home, with one simple example being the ability for smartphones to stream content to the television and so use it as a supplementary display. The LG Smart Share media sharing software has been updated for 2012 with enough new features to warrant the new name Smart Share Plus.
It is clear that the smartphone has a bigger role to play in the connected home as an intelligent control and interface device for smart home appliances. As an example, LG now offers a refrigerator in its Smart ThinkQ range that includes food management software to keep track of the food that is stored, telling consumers when a lettuce is nearly out-of-date or that the yoghurt has run out. A consumer can even access this information via their smartphone from the supermarket. You can record the food you are storing using an LCD panel or voice recognition on the refrigerator but consumers can also scan the receipts with their smartphone to make this easier.
Providing a glimpse of where this is all leading, Ellis Mass, Director of Brand Marketing for Home Appliances at LG Electronics, said the Smart Manager product can be extended to cover not just food management but health management, where you can give each member of the family a profile covering any special dietary needs, such as a low-fat diet. The health manager liaises with the food manager so it knows what is available in the refrigerator, then generates recipe suggestions that meet the dietary requirements of the family members, and will even send the correct oven settings to a smart oven to kick-start the cooking.
For good measure, LG has updated its ‘Smart Bot’ robotic cleaner so it can be managed remotely via the smartphone, and it can also now move around the home with a camera for home monitoring!
“We live in a connected world and our new generation of smart appliances will allow consumers to manage their households as easily as they manage their Facebook accounts,” Mass declared. “These are game-changing technologies that can really improve the day-to-day lives of American families.”
The product launches at CES were targeted at North America initially but reflect some of the major trends that will play out worldwide, which were highlighted by the CEA (Consumer Electronics Association) on the eve of the show, namely, the fact that connectivity will be the foundation for CE innovation this decade, that computing power will be distributed into more devices, and that there will be an increasing focus on the user interface to make all the new capabilities as user friendly as possible.
LG Electronics also talked at length about 3DTV, convinced that this is a solution consumers want and equally confident that its decision to back passive technology is being rewarded with growing market share for passive and for LG in the 3D television set marketplace. The list of 2012 innovations include larger 3D capable screens (up to 84 inches in LCD), thinner panels (down to 28mm thickness and 1.0mm bezel) , 2D to 3D conversion, 3D depth control and 3D sound zooming for a more immersive experience. The company is also bringing glasses-free 3D to laptops and computer monitors.
The big news in mobile phones, when it comes to video, is the U.S. launch later this year of a Verizon Wireless exclusive LG Spectrum model that makes ESPN sports content available in 720p HD through the ESPN ScoreCenter app. This is the first time ESPN content has been available for mobiles in that resolution and the cooperation is viewed as an industry milestone by the two companies.