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article imageLingLong's DingDong is China's answer to the Amazon Echo

By James Walker     Nov 24, 2016 in Technology
Chinese electronics manufacturer LingLong has unveiled its own take on Amazon's Echo voice-activated smart home speaker. It can manage tasks and control home appliances. It is getting the most attention for its translated English name: "DingDong."
The DingDong was launched by LingLong this week for the equivalent of $118. It has a square base that rises to a spherical top that stands 9.5-inches tall. WIRED reports that the design is based on the concept of tianyuán dífang, the idea that heaven is round and Earth is square. Four colours are available, white, red, black and purple.
Like the Amazon Echo, the DingDong can play music, search for things online and manage your daily schedule. It's predominantly voice controlled, accompanied by a companion app. The DingDong's always-on voice listening allows it to schedule calendar appointments, have conversations, check the latest weather and control smart home devices.
Activating the DingDong is done through three different voice triggers. There's the basic "DingDong DingDong," the Chinese girl's nickname "Xiaowei Xiaowei"or the phrase "BaiLing BaiLing", roughly translated to "skylark" in English.
The DingDong is built to offer the features of Amazon's Echo to Chinese consumers. The Echo has proved to be a major success in the U.S., making its way into homes across the country.
The appeal of smart speakers is twofold: they can add convenience while also acting as a central hub for all your devices. The always-on voice listening lets you check things online while occupied in the real world. You can ask a question without reaching for your phone or check a recipe while cooking a meal.
LingLong senior marketing manager Charlie Liu admitted to WIRED that the Echo "influenced us a lot." It's not a simple Chinese clone of Amazon's product though. The DingDong was already under development before Amazon unveiled the Echo and LingLong hasn't even been able to access an Echo while creating the DingDong.
Liu acknowledged the DingDong has got a long way to go before rivalling Amazon globally. In particular, it will need support from third-party services to be a success. One of the Echo's key strengths is its strong integration with other platforms, something LingLong currently lacks entirely.
"Echo is really great in this area," Liu admitted. "[We have] 10 services like that, but Amazon announced that they have 4,000. It's really a big gap."
LingLong is already working on new platform technologies that developers can use to build DingDong into their apps. It is also creating a new artificial intelligence system that will give the DingDong a personality and the ability to chain questions and commands together. LingLong is taking the product seriously because China's smart home market is expected to be worth $22.8 billion by 2018.
The smart speaker has been welcomed in China, offering something new in a region which currently has no alternatives. The unfortunately named DingDong has been more a subject of ridicule outside its native region, with social media users questioning how the "LingLong DingDong" would appear alongside its more simply named rivals.
More about linglong, Smart home, IoT, internet of things, smart speakers
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