Is Line’s smart assistant Clova a real Alexa competitor?

Japanese messaging service Line announced on Thursday a personal assistant, called Clova, in the mold of Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. The app will communicate to Asian users through hundreds of different screens, including an Echo-like speaker.

Line will bundle its messaging service, which integrates payment, ridesharing, and shopping, and Naver’s search platform into Clova. Users will be able to receive weather reports, news bulletins, and ask “complicated questions”, among other things.

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clova-wave-ai-speaker

The app will be made available in the summer on mobile platforms and via an Echo-like speaker, called Wave. Line will make the speaker available in the summer. The speaker looks more like Google Home than the Amazon Echo, with a minimalist design and lights at the top to show the speaker is listening.

clova-face-speaker

Line will also launch a ‘Smart Display Face’ for homes in the winter. It seems to be similar to Wave, but instead of lights, the top of the speaker has a digital face. The company has not said how this would work and the advantages of owning the Face. Price for either speaker has not been disclosed.

Details on the scale of the program, the sophistication of the artificial intelligence, and who Line is working with are slim. We know Naver, Line’s South Korean parent, will be contributing heavily to the development. We have also heard that Line is in talks with Sony to build a ‘hearable’ that uses Clova.

Other than that, Line is keeping quiet. We’ll have to wait until the summer to find out if this can truly be a contender in the AI space, and if Western rivals like Amazon and Google are in trouble.

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