Today at its annual Baidu World event, Baidu unveiled its first smart speaker, the Raven H, which is powered by the company’s own intelligent voice assistant, DuerOS. But unlike every other smart speaker launched since the Amazon Echo’s debut, it looks nothing like its predecessors. In fact, it doesn’t even look like a smart speaker at all.
The Raven H is a set of stacked, colorful plastic squares, which kind of reminds of a kids’ toy. But besides being unique looking, it also features an LED display touch controller that can be detached from the base of the device and be used as a voice remote to control either the main base or other Raven compatible smart home device independently. It will retail for RMB 1,699 or $256. In addition to the Raven H, Baidu also introduced two new home robots but neither has a set launch date yet.
A Different Approach to Smart Speaker Design
The Raven H is the first hardware design from Baidu acquiring startup Raven Tech in February and Swedish consumer electronics manufacturer, Teenage Engineering. With one product launched and two more to come, it is clear that the Chinese internet giant is wasting no time in getting into the smart device race. It is also clear that Baidu is not afraid to go in a different direction with its hardware design.
Even without its bright colors, the Raven H is definitely a new take on the average smart speaker. Most companies have followed Amazon’s lead by launching cylinder shaped speakers in colors that blend into its home surroundings. Baidu took a different approach. It could be that the consumer aesthetic is different in China or it could be that the company is looking to distinguish itself from other smart speakers on the market. Either way, Baidu is thinking and looking different than its competitors at home and in the US.