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As AI eats world, Lotte Shopping is latest to try

Jan 06,2020
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Top: Lotte Shopping’s new artificial intelligence (AI) speaker. Above: Samsung Electronics’ QLED 8K TV with upgraded AI features. [LOTTE SHOPPING, SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS]
It’s not just tech companies jumping on the artificial intelligence (AI) bandwagon. Retail is all over the go-to technology of 2020 as well.

Lotte Shopping on Sunday said it is jumping on the trend, introducing an AI speaker with a display.

Lotte Shopping, which operates Lotte Department Store and Lotte Super, unveiled Charlotte Home today. The device, developed by local Hajen, was distributed to Lotte Shopping employees and V.I.P. customers.

Similar devices are already available in the market, but Lotte says it is the first device in Korea that supports voice commands with a touch screen function.

KT’s GiGA Genie TV users are able to shop at Lotte Super using voice commands, but the display doesn’t support a touch function. SK Telecom’s voice-recognition digital assistant device Nugu nemo also features a display screen, but there’s no voice command function.

Charlotte Home enables users to order products using voice commands. For instance, they can say, “Charlotte, reorder diapers I ordered last time.”

The service is still in its beta testing phase, and no timeline has been given for a mass-rollout-ready version.

Lotte will seep the product into the market, focusing first on the V.I.P.s. Its goal is not to sell the device but to get the device out there so people do more shopping.

“Our goal is to spread our content on other AI devices,” said a spokesperson for Lotte Shopping.

According to Singapore-based market analyst firm Canalys, the number of AI speaker shipments worldwide is estimated to have hit 207.9 million last year, an 82.4 percent jump on year. The report showed that AI speakers with a touch screen are gaining a presence in the market, with on-year sales having spiked 500 percent, to 6.3 million, in the third quarter last year.

Electronics companies continue to push the relevant products.

Samsung Electronics on Saturday said it will introduce a QLED 8K television with improved AI features at CES, set to start Tuesday in Las Vegas.

Powered by an AI quantum processor, the television has a built-in AI ScaleNet technology, which Samsung claims will offer a higher quality picture by allowing 8K streaming on networks with lower bandwidth capabilities. AI ScaleNet utilizes deep learning to minimize data loss during compression and will be applied on the videos featured on Amazon Prime Video, according to Samsung.

The AI processor works with audio capabilities. Object Tracking Sound Plus technology is able to provide a more vivid audio experience. The technology recognizes a moving object in the video content and delivers the sound accordingly.

“2020’s QLED 8K [TVs] demonstrate that Samsung Electronics will revolutionize and offer upgraded consumer experiences,” said Choo Jong-suk, executive vice president of the visual display business at Samsung Electronics.

Rival LG Electronics plans to boost AI utilization through a joint study with Montreal-based Element AI, which develops AI software.

Element AI was co-founded by its CEO Jean-Francois Gagne and Yoshua Bengio, a computer scientist noted for his work on artificial neural networks and deep learning.

The two firms inked a partnership in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Under the partnership, they will develop diverse AI technologies that can be used in various electronics devices and services.

“AI needs a clear direction to deliver higher value to consumers,” said the company’s Chief Technology Officer Park Il-pyung. “[LG] will lead the systematic development of AI through its partnership with Element AI.”

BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]