China’s smart home market is anticipated to reach $22.8 billion by 2018, so it’s no wonder they have their virtual assistant. The LingLong DingDong is China’s answer to the Amazon Echo with Alexa.
Similar to the Echo, the LingLong can track schedules, play music, and give information about the weather and stocks. This powerful little tool could help introduce voice-activated technology including the Echo into Chinese markets.
Its design is simple, standing 9.5 inches tall and weighing only three pounds. It features a round top that transitions into a square base and comes in three different colors. Everything about the design is meaningful. The physical design is meant to represent the idea that heaven is round and earth is square, a concept that is central to the design language of the LingLong. The colors also have various meanings: white for purity and red for posterity.
The device costs the equivalent of $118 and is available in two languages: Mandarin and Cantonese. Due to the complex nature of each language, it was not feasible to feature them both within the same device. With all the variety in dialect and accent, achieving 100 percent voice recognition was a challenge, but the creators are confident that at least 95 percent of users will be understood.
While development of the LingLong was already underway when the Amazon Echo made its debut in 2014, the creators still looked to the device for inspiration. While they were unable to obtain a physical Echo, they were able to learn from the marketing materials provided by Amazon.
Charlie Liu, LingLong’s senior marketing manager, said, “Their launch influenced us a lot.” While the LingLong is primarily used to stream music, the company is looking toward the future. They will be unable to expand without third-party support such as Amazon has received for the Echo. Where LingLong has about 10 third-party services, Amazon boasts more than 4,000.
The device is not without its setbacks with some users reporting challenges connecting to Wi-Fi and being challenged by certain speech limitations, but they hope with the support of other companies they can continue to improve. The company hopes that one day Amazon will want to launch Echo in China and could use their existing voice engine to do so.