Bored of the unimaginative minimalism that dominates the smart speaker market? Are you done with dull cylinders like the Amazon Echo or unnoticeable donut-shaped gadgets like the Google Home Mini?
If smart speakers available on the market today have something in common – it’s that they are rather characterless and unexciting when it comes to design. But not all of them are like that. For example, Baidu’s first smart speaker dubbed the Raven H easily breaks away from the crowd.
Swedish designers, Teenage Engineering have partnered up with Baidu, China’s answer to Google, for this product, which was co-designed with Raven Tech, an AI startup that was acquired by the former.
At first glance, you probably won’t even be able to tell what the Raven H does, as the device looks like a stack of colorful plastic blocks with a red old telephone-wire attached. Even so, Baidu’s smart speaker can perform every function expected of a product in this category. It includes a LED display touch controller that can be detached from the device to be used to control the main base from a distance.
The Raven H is powered by the company’s conversational AI technology, DuerOS which is similar to Amazon’s Alexa or the Google Assistant, so users can do things like play music, control other smart devices around the house, call a taxi, schedule things (like turning on the TV when it’s time to watch an episode) or search for info – all by virtue of voice commands.
Unfortunately, the Raven H is a device destined for the Chinese market, but surely if it were to ever launch on the Western market, this smart speaker would certainly draw a lot of attention. The gadget is expected to go on sale next month for approximately $256.