Amazon’s Echo now has a Chinese variant: LingLong DingDong. As funny as the name sounds, it’s the first serious and promising home assistant on China’s challenging market #objectmagic
Like Echo, DingDong plays music and audiobooks, tells you the news of the day, answers weather questions and more. It can also manage your schedule and provide directions. It’s no bigger than 9.5 inches tall, has one circular end and one square one, signifying tiānyuán dìfāng (“heaven is round, Earth is square”), one motto the company behind the product identifies with. It’s actually the first product Beijing LingLong Co. put on the market. The joint venture became reality after China’s biggest online retailer, JD.com, partnered up with iFlytek, voice recognition software company.
To wake the device, users can select one of three commands – DingDong DingDong, Xiaowei Xiaowei and BaiLing BaiLing. Afterwards, the assistant is bound to understand their wishes if they speak in Cantonese or Mandarin. LingLong DingDong comes in two versions, each one for a different dialect. So far, their third-party app support is restricted to 10 services but there’s an open voice service platform where developers can contribute.
Another drawback is LingLong’s response limit. It can only give one answer per question/command now, but with artificial intelligence integration, this can be expanded.
LingLong DingDong comes in four colors ( white, red, black, purple) and costs the equivalent of $118. At this convenient price, China’s Echo should take off, especially considering the country’s smart home market is expected to expand to $22.8 billion by 2018.