3 new devices join the KT GiGA Genie family

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3 new devices join the KT GiGA Genie family

KT unveiled its latest smart speakers on Thursday, announcing its goal to attract 500,000 users to the devices by the end of the year.

The mobile carrier also introduced the first smart speaker that works on long term evolution (LTE) networks in Korea. The device can also be used as an LTE router that allows users to connect to the internet through the device.

The extended KT GiGA Genie smart speaker family now includes the GiGA Genie LTE, GiGA Genie Buddy and GiGA Genie Kids Watch, a watch embedded with KT’s AI platform.

GiGA Genie LTE, a combination of smart speaker and LTE router, was developed to eliminate the need for the device to be permanently connected to a WiFi connection in a home or office. The new speaker can even provide a WiFi connection for laptops, smartphones and other devices outside of the home through its LTE router.

The portable device, smaller and lighter than the original speaker released 10 months ago, weighs about 470 grams (166 ounces). Its 4,100mAh battery will last for about eight hours when fully charged, according to the mobile carrier. To use the LTE connection, a monthly subscription fee of roughly 11,000 won ($10.13) will be charged for existing KT customers and slightly more for other users.

GiGa Genie Buddy, designed to be placed in each room of the house, is about half the height of the GiGA Genie LTE. Like the original GiGA Genie, the device features a Harman Kardon speaker and is capable of various voice-powered controls such as turning off music or home appliances.

While the LTE-enabled speaker is now available, the smaller Buddy device and watch will be launched in January next year. According to KT, the GiGA Genie smart speaker range currently has 383,000 users. With the release of the new LTE-powered device, the number is expected to reach 500,000 by the end of this year.

KT is also releasing a software upgrade that enables the speakers to distinguish members of the family by voice. The carrier is currently working on developing a service with banks so that financial transactions can be handled via voice command. While Baek Gyu-tae, head of KT’s service research center, said user verification through Genie’s voice recognition capability is up to an acceptable standard, it still needs to attain approval from the Fast Identity Online authentication alliance to make financial transactions possible through the AI device.

The release of the new range was an attempt to counter SK Telecom’s earlier release of Nugu Mini, a smaller and portable version of the carrier’s own smart speaker Nugu. The device, similar in size to the GiGA Genie Buddy, carries a 2,000 mAh battery capable of holding a charge for up to four hours but does not have an LTE connection.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]
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