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This is LG's Bean Bird

This is LG's Bean Bird


The cartoon bird LG hopes will make you set up your smart TV

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By far the most controversial part of LG's new webOS smart TVs is going to be the feathered digital assistant that accompanies them. Meet Bean Bird, a brown little, well, bird shaped like a bean. The bird won't live in the entire LG webOS TV interface, like Microsoft's infamous Clippy did in Office. Instead, it will just show up during an LG TV's setup process. The idea is to get you to actually complete the entire setup, every single step — many users don't, and so therefore don't take full advantage of the features on their smart TVs.

When you first boot up your smart TV, Bean Bird encourages you to calibrate your remote and walks you through the steps. The process alternates between guiding animations and short little cinematics that are designed to provide mini congratulations and encouragements for completing each step. There's also discouragement: if you choose not to set up Wi-Fi, for example, an angry Bean Bird marches across the screen with a surrender flag while a mob of his compatriots agitate in the background. LG really wants you to set up all the features on that TV.

Shades of Clippy? Yes, obviously — both are cartoons meant to help you use a gadget. The good news for LG's webOS smart TVs is that Bean Bird will fly away once you've set up your TV, instead of constantly offering help like Clippy did, to the annoyance of many users. The bad news? It's not clear that anyone is buying TVs based on their ability to act as bird sanctuaries.