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LG's new domestic robot monitors home security and reads its owner's moods

A pint-sized, two-wheeled robot by LG — to be unveiled at CES 2024 — is domestic, but only in a hands-off kind of way. It doesn't scrub floors or iron clothes. Instead, the smart home AI agent acts as a clever, context-aware go-between between humans and their smart homes.

When its people aren't home, the agent roams around, verifying windows haven't been left open, checking what the dog is up to and monitoring air quality. It has sensors for external data like temperature and humidity, a built-in camera, a microphone and speakers. If it spots something out of the ordinary, it can send a notification to the homeowner's phone.

All of which is powered by AI technology that learns and adapts to a household's specific needs and wants. And those wishes don't have to be verbalized. The agent can discern a person's emotions by analyzing their facial expressions and tone of voice and then act accordingly — for example, by adjusting lighting or serving up a song that's exactly right for the moment.

The new agent aligns with LG's vision of a 'Zero Labor Home,' where advanced technology streamlines household management. (Concerns about a resulting Zero Privacy Home are obviously warranted.) No word yet on pricing or availability.

Trend Bite

Users mainly manage their smart home appliances and IoT devices through smartphone apps and, to a lesser degree, by voice control. Even though they might actually prefer a screen break. In Deloitte's 2023 Connected Consumer Survey, 38% of respondents said they're "struggling to limit their screen time to a level they feel comfortable with."

What's missing is a semi-autonomous controller that anticipates a user's needs and tweaks their home accordingly, with little to no human intervention required. Walk in the door looking tired? Or buoyant or sad? With a competent agent in charge, a bath could start running, an energetic playlist streamed to speakers, or a tea kettle switched on.

By removing the need for people to reach for their phones to control their environment, an ever-learning household manager like LG's robot could allow technology to recede into the background, anchoring people in the physicality of their surroundings.

Innovation of the day