Joining other interesting gadget launch at the recently concluded IFA 2018 trade show is the Huawei AI Cube. The IFA 2018 birthed amazing innovations from brands like Lenovo (the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Xtreme and Lenovo Yoga C930 for example) and now, Huawei.
The AI Cube is a smart speaker that Huawei had earlier teased users with about a year ago but now deemed fit to release. As a side note, the Huawei AI Cube was introduced at the IFA 2019 alongside other innovations from Huawei like the Hisilicon Kirin 980 (world’s first 7nm chipset), a Huawei Locator, and a watered down of the Mate 20 smartphone — Mate 20 Lite.
The AI Cube is believed to be Huawei’s break-in to the virtual home assistant ecosystem; trying to steal the shine from existing prominent members like the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePod.
Hearing the term “AI Cube” for the first time might leave you thinking Huawei’s virtual home assistant is shaped as a Rubik’s Cube or any other cube-like thing(s) that come to your mind. It is, however, cylindrical in shape — just like the Google Home, but bigger— and there isn’t any other shape. The ‘Cube’ speaker, however, comes in red, green, and grey colour variants.
The design of the AI
Cylinder Cube is pretty normal like what you would expect on a smart home speaker; Samsung’s Galaxy Home remains a smart speaker with one of the weirdest design there is. Still on AI Cube’s design, about two-third of the speaker’s (upper) body is made with plastic while the base/bottom part is covered in a fabric mesh material.
At the top of the speaker, there is a LED ring, three touch-sensitive capacitive buttons and a physical button. Two out of the three touch-sensitive buttons control the smart speakers volume while the third is to manually awaken Alexa. The physical button mutes the microphone on the AI Cube should you be concerned about privacy or skeptical about being monitored.
The LED ring serves notification purposes as it turns Blue when Alexa is active and Red when there is an error. To the side of the Huawei AI Cube are the power button, Hilink button (to pair with other Huawei’s smart home gadgets), and a number of LED status lights that serves as indicators for LAN, Wi-Fi, and 4G signal.
At the bottom, there speaker’s power socket is placed as well as a slot for Micro SIM card which allows the AI Cube independent on WiFi only. In addition to the SIM slot and power jack, there is an Ethernet port at the bottom, too. One standout feature that might make the Huawei AI Cube the top choice among other big-name smart speakers in the market is its capability to double as a WiFi router.
On the AI Cube, Huawei used its native Histen Sound Tuning technology to ensure that the speaker’s sound is loud, deep and immersive enough; that it can easily fill up a (busy or calm) room, a hall, or any space. Huawei’s Histen audio technology will reportedly bring 360-degree sound, adaptive gain control, virtual bass, and linear phase equalizer to the AI Cube.
Just like sound production would be nothing but top-notch on the Huawei AI Cube, picking up voice would be without glitches too. The AI Cube comes with four (4) far-field microphones which allows the Alexa-powered smart speaker be called at a maximum distance of 5 meters.
The Huawei AI Cube currently comes with support for there languages: English, German, and French. It isn’t certain if Huawei will add support for more languages when the smart speaker is eventually ready to be launched. Before the end of the year, Huawei will commence sales of the smart home virtual assistant in the Europe markets.
It is believed that Huawei picked Alexa to power the AI Cube over Google Assistant because Alexa is an established force name in the AI industry and also because Huawei has a long-standing relationship with Amazon (the Alexa company). There is no pricing information available for the Huawei AI Cube yet but there is no doubt that it (price) will also play a vital role in determining the success of the smart speaker — the 4G router capability is already a big selling point.