Teenage Engineering and Raven’s ‘H’ and ‘R’ aren’t typical sensible audio system


Most individuals nonetheless do not know who or what Teenage Engineering is. However, those who do most likely consider them as a music firm — the long-lasting OP-1 synthesizer, OD-11 speaker and line of tiny Pocket Operator synths have earned Teenage Engineering that repute. However greater than that, the corporate is fabricated from of people that love getting bizarre with {hardware} design; pushing the boundaries of what might be created is in Teenage Engineering’s DNA.

Two new merchandise Teenage Engineering designed in partnership with Raven have been simply unveiled on the Baidu World convention in Beijing, China, and so they most positively match with that ethos. Merely referred to by the only letters “H” and “R,” the best method to determine units is to name them sensible audio system. However they do not in any method resemble what Amazon and Google have skilled us to think about after we consider audio system that you just speak to.

Gallery: Raven and Teenage Engineering H and R audio system | 12 Photographs


Of the 2 merchandise, the R is well extra placing. The prototype brings to thoughts Apple’s iMac G4 with its pivoting arm and display floating on prime of a white dome. On this case, although, the whole building is far smaller — there is a speaker base, a six-axis gimbal “arm” and a touch-sensitive, LED display, all packed right into a tiny body. However in contrast to the iMac G4, the R can transfer all by itself. It is not prepared for manufacturing but, however the R makes use of a combo of motors and software program to make the R’s show have a look at you while you communicate to it. Or, it’s going to simply dance alongside to music you play.

Raven / Teenage Engineering

The H is a bit much less formidable, however no much less distinctive. It primarily seems like a stack of colourful drink coasters, and you’ll even take away the highest layer. Simply as on the R, that prime piece is a touch-sensitive LED array with built-in microphones; it additionally features as a distant while you take away it from the remainder of the H. Under the display, the the H homes a speaker, extra microphones and a chargeable battery so it may be moved across the house. When it is linked, you may tilt the display up so it faces ahead when not getting used as a distant.

As with all the things Teenage Engineering builds, having persona is simply as vital as having a practical product. “In my head, [the R] is a mixture between a plant and a pet,” CEO and founder Jesper Kouthoofd informed Engadget. “After I was doing the primary sketches for the H, I used to be pondering of fruit. That is why it is so colourful. With the R, I considered flowers.”

That persona extends to the show itself. Kouthoofd mentioned that its major function is extra for emotional connection and suggestions quite than displaying info. It will mild up and reply to your voice or music that it performs; it might probably additionally present small bits of information just like the time. However just like the Google House or Amazon Echo, voice suggestions is the first interplay.

Gallery: Teenage Engineering – growth of the R speaker | 18 Photographs


Whereas the H responds to customers with visuals and sound, the R will add in movement; as such, Teenage Engineering is pondering of the R as its first foray into robotics. “Different robotics corporations focus a lot on having the unit transfer round, they do not actually care in regards to the interplay between the person and the machine,” Kouthoofd mentioned. “Teenage Engineering believes it has to present one thing again to the consumer, at an emotional stage.” Kouthoofd mentioned. An instance of that’s how the R will reply to music. Teenage Engineering wrote customized software program so that it will analyze what’s being performed, divide up the beat and dance alongside, in time. It will even acknowledge when there is a breakdown in a music and alter issues up.

Unsurprisingly, constructing the arm and its motors was essentially the most difficult a part of the method, significantly provided that the crew went from 3D-printed fashions to a working prototype in about six months. However regardless of the excessive stage of engineering right here, Kouthoofd hopes the speaker will probably be inexpensive — comparatively talking. “Hopefully the top product is not going to be a $2,000 robotic,” he mentioned, “it’s going to hopefully be round $500 or $600.” That is much more costly than an Amazon Echo, however Teenage Engineering is not afraid of charging premium costs. The OP-1 synthesizer nonetheless sells for $899, whereas the OD-11 speaker prices $999.

How precisely these merchandise will work stays a little bit of a thriller, largely attributable to the truth that each merchandise are initially solely launching in China. A lot of the software program and AI will probably be supplied by Baidu and Raven, which Baidu bought earlier this yr. For these not conversant in Raven, the group now works on voice recognition and ability in addition to design and {hardware} mechanics. Kouthoofd says it’s going to primarily do all of the sensible speaker issues that units from Google and Amazon are doing — it’s going to reply questions, play music, allow you to order meals, management sensible house units and usually connect with Baidu’s data graph and servers to tug down data.

Kouthoofd admits that he isn’t 100% certain how the H will work in use, as a result of his crew has been so centered on the {hardware} facet of issues. However Raven had already constructed one thing comparable for China; this new mannequin will seemingly work the identical method, simply with Teenage Engineering’s distinctive design language.

Raven / Teenage Engineering

Teenage Engineering expects to deliver these new merchandise out of China, but it surely’s not going to be straightforward. Baidu operates solely in China, and its companies will not work with different languages proper now — a reasonably large requirement for a voice-activated speaker. Kouthoofd casually talked about the potential of working with Amazon or Google to get their sturdy voice companies on Teenage Engineering merchandise sooner or later, but it surely’s not the principle focus in the meanwhile.

In addition to, Kouthoofd is presently much more enamored with the know-how popping out of China than what is going on on in Silicon Valley. “All the things comes from Silicon Valley… they dictate what’s cool within the tech world,” he mentioned. “I have been pondering for 2 years that it is somewhat bit boring, it is only one voice.” However the Teenage Engineering crew seems at China as a chance to deliver their distinctive perspective to an enormous market. “We guess on China as an alternative of Silicon Valley as a result of that is the place we are able to make a change,” he mentioned. “We will not actually do this in Silicon Valley, it has a very robust voice, however we might be a part of China’s voice.”

Step one in constructing that voice begins as we speak: The less complicated H mannequin is accessible for pre-order now, with supply anticipated in late December. However the R mannequin remains to be within the prototype section. Between that and the brand new market Teenage Engineering is making an attempt to enter, it is laborious to say how profitable the corporate will probably be at leaping into China.

However Kouthoofd seems at this as just the start of Teenage Engineering’s transfer to robotics. “We considered what we are able to ship on as we speak, not in a yr,” he mentioned. “So we constructed a robotic within the house with a face: that is the H, with its show and voice. The R is like giving it a physique… perhaps for the following section we’ll do the legs.”

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