LG’s SmartThinQ Hub, a speaker with smart home control, certainly looks a lot like an Amazon Echo, a similarity that only grows closer with the news from IFA that LG is adding Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant to the device.
Amazon licenses the Alexa software as part of its Amazon Voice Service, allowing any developer to include Alexa in their products. However, there are a few limitations to third-party integrations of Alexa like LG’s when compared to Amazon’s own Echo devices – the SmartThinQ Hub requires users to press a button on either a remote or the speaker to activate Alexa, versus the Echo’s always-listening feature.
The SmartThinQ Hub / Alexa integration also will allow voice commands for other LG SmartThinQ compatible devices through the hub, allowing for direct voice control of things like lights, fans, air conditioners, and other products in LG's ecosystem. When the SmartThinQ Hub originally shipped it could only be controlled through the SmartThinQ app on a connected smartphone, making the Alexa support a welcome addition.
LG's Amazon partnership also extends to including Amazon Dash support in SmartThinQ sensors, allowing LG's connected products going forward to quickly order refills on things like laundry detergent or soap through Amazon.