LG Makes a Major Push Into AI with ThinQ
The consumer technology world was introduced to the concept of ThinQ during an LG press conference earlier this year where the company debuted the technology. There, LG explained, roughly, how the artificial intelligence technology had the potential to improve the daily lives of LG consumers—through washing machines and TVs.
Now, nearly nine months later, LG will take to the stage again—this time at IFA 2018—to dive deeper into its ThinQ technology during the company’s first-ever IFA Keynote presentation.
There, LG Chief Executive Officer Jo Seong-Jin and Chief Technology Officer Dr. I.P. Park plan to outline their vision for ThinQ. They plan to touch on their philosophy of an “open platform, open partnership, and open connectivity,” and they’ll demonstrate how ThinQ comes to life in the company’s products.
Ahead of the keynote, Dealerscope had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Park to learn a little bit more about ThinQ, how the technology was developed, and get a sneak peek at where LG plans to take it in the future.
Here’s a look at our conversation.
Dealerscope: With this being LG’s first IFA Keynote, are you excited to participate in the briefing? How do you anticipate it will go?
Dr. Park: We're excited about the opportunity to address so many important industry influencers. LG is poised to define the future of AI for consumers and businesses in the years ahead in collaboration with leaders across the industries.
A major focus of the session will be on artificial intelligence and LG’s ThinQ technology, which launched late last year. What impact has ThinQ had on LG so far?
LG ThinQ is our global AI brand. It represents LG’s products and solutions that “think” to provide intelligent services. ThinQ is transforming our products and creating new business opportunities. With ThinQ, all our products evolve over time. LG’s home products like refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners already are Wi-Fi enabled and IoT-ready and equipped with voice recognition technology. And, with AI, the more you use our products, the more they will learn, and the better they evolve to meet your specific needs.
For example, LG OLED TV has AI features including the Alpha 9 intelligent processor, which optimizes the picture quality. As more AI functions are added into TVs, the viewers will enjoy personalized contents with the best picture quality. For mobile, LG’s G7 ThinQ is equipped with our latest AI technologies such as the AI Cam that recognizes up to 19 subject options through photo analysis and suggests the optimal filter for the user to enhance the shot. The Super Bright Camera uses an AI algorithm that automatically adjusts the brightness, enabling the user to take photos even in the dark.
Our ThinQ products are already creating new business opportunities. Before IFA, LG will deploy 14 airport guide robots at the Incheon International Airport after a full year of successful trial service. We’ll continue to expand the portfolio of ThinQ products and solutions in the years to come. So, stay tuned.
How long was ThinQ in development before it was ready for its public debut? What was that process like?
ThinQ evolved from many things we had been working on in areas such as home appliances, automotive, mobile products, and so on. We were able to launch ThinQ products because of the customer experience and insights LG has gained over the past six decades all over the world. And with our continued AI developments, our ThinQ products will continue to evolve over time as we begin a new cycle of another 60 years and beyond.
What benefits will consumers see in ThinQ-enabled products?
Through a wide range of networked products you are able to benefit from AI as a seamless user experience; at home, on the road, and in the office. For example, at home with LG’s total clothing care solution the only thing you have to do is put in your laundry; our appliances do the rest. The machine can automatically set the washing cycle depending on the type and the load, provide the optimal dryer cycle, or have the LG Styler seamlessly prepare your clothes.
LG ThinQ aims to provide the best AI experience to our customers, whether it comes from our own or from an external partner’s solution. The world has become just too complex for any one company to insist on a proprietary closed solution. Our ultimate goal is to provide the most powerful AI solutions to the users through our “open platform-open partnership-open connectivity” strategy.
We’ve seen ThinQ integrated into appliances, TVs, and smartphones. What other products might we see AI make its way into? Is there a limit to its capabilities?
The possibilities are virtually limitless. LG isn’t only making B2C AI products, but we’re also actively developing commercial robots, industrial robots, and B2B vertical solutions and services. Earlier this year, we open-sourced our webOS to share knowledge and expertise with external software developers. The purpose is to embrace the vast amount of AI services and device agents that are used by our customers every day. LG has been applying webOS to a number of devices from TVs, digital signage, smartwatches, and refrigerators. And webOS can connect with ThinQ as well as the Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. Looking ahead, webOS will expand into robots and the autonomous driving environment based on AI technologies.
Now that ThinQ has launched, what are the next steps for the technology? Is this something where we will see a ThinQ version 2? Or does the technology just continue to learn and evolve?
ThinQ has three main characteristics: the ability to evolve with time, the ability to integrate AI into a diverse portfolio of everyday products, and openness. These are at the core of our AI strategy.
With the ability to evolve with time, the more you use our products, the better they evolve to meet your specific needs. For example, the LG ThinQ air conditioner learns your living patterns over time. It cools to the temperature you want, when you want it.
The ability to integrate AI into a diverse portfolio of everyday products means, for instance, that LG’s in-vehicle infotainment system can communicate with your home refrigerator to find out if you need to pick up groceries after work. As you get closer to home, it adjusts your home’s temperature and lighting. Your garage door automatically opens when you arrive. In hotels, buildings and stores, our B2B systems, such as hotel TVs, system air conditioners and digital signage, will increasingly offer more LG ThinQ AI and data services for convenience and productivity.
Finally, openness; our strategy is to provide the best AI experience for LG customers, leveraging the complementary capabilities of leading partners across the ecosystem. For example, we are collaborating with Google to integrate the Google Assistant in some of our strategic products such as OLED TVs, wireless AI speakers, and intelligent headphones. We'll form partnerships with academia, start-ups and global corporations to promote this open strategy of an integrated AI experience.
LG has placed great emphasis on investing in robotics firms, which has been attached to the future of ThinQ. What’s the strategy or thinking there?
Robots represent one of the most important growth areas for LG Electronics. We’re developing robots in several categories: home, commercial, industrial, and other niche areas such as senior care.
In particular, LG is pioneering the field of service robots. These robots are currently being deployed in public spaces such as airports and shopping malls.
We’re now deploying 14 airport guide robots at the Incheon International Airport after a full year of successful trial service. This airport is a typical large-scale dynamic environment. The distance from the east to the west of the airport is over a mile, and it’s always crowded with pedestrians and carts. Our robots navigate autonomously and interact with people by performing localization, obstacle recognition, path planning, vocal, and emotional interaction at the airport.
We expect these service robots to be extended to other public spaces, too. All this is a perfect testbed of exponential technologies and innovative business models. Our business model is not limited to just selling robot products and solutions. We aim to create new business models of data and services utilizing robots.
What, if anything, is LG doing to address consumers’ concerns around privacy and data security with regards to artificial intelligence technology?
LG is serious about protecting privacy of our users and data security. As part of that effort, we’re complying with Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other industrial security regulations. For example, these regulations require companies to minimize collection of user data, which is aligned with our principle. To this end, LG is applying the latest security technologies to all of our products. LG has an end-to-end solution to strengthen security from the end device to the cloud for our connected products utilizing technologies such as enhanced cryptographic algorithms, mandatory access control, authentication and key management system, and secure over-the-air update mechanisms.
We understand that security must be designed in during the entire product development lifecycle. So, we have something called LG SDL that requires our developers to stick to the most rigorous security process during the lifecycle of product development. And, our Product Security Response Team collects security vulnerabilities from external parties to respond with the up-to-date security solutions in a timely manner. To facilitate this, we opened our new global Software Upgrade Center this year, and we will continue to focus on enhancing security in other products beyond smartphones.
What’s the ultimate goal for ThinQ? What is LG working towards with this technology?
We’re a lifestyle company. LG’s mission is Innovation for a Better Life. AI will help us enjoy our lifestyle to the fullest. Lifestyle has 5 segments: 1) clothing care, 2) food, 3), living spaces, 4) travel, and 5) entertainment. LG is integrating AI into a diverse portfolio of everyday products and solutions to enhance the overall lifestyle of our customers. AI will ultimately touch everybody’s lives, transforming the way we live, work and play.