LG’s CES press conference just kicked off here in Las Vegas, and the Korean tech giant is talking up services at a breakneck pace. In a bid to improve how people interact with the company’s vast smart home appliance portfolio, CTO Scott Ahn talked up LG HomeChat, a virtual assistant service that lets users essentially text message their appliances to issue commands and get status updates. In a brief demo video, LG highlighted how users could send messages to their refrigerators to see (I’m not kidding) how many beers are still available or send photos to their televisions to see them on a big screen. The depth of integration with LG’s appliances is no joke either — its smart cooking range can also deliver recipes when you ask it how to prepare particular meals, and texting “what are you doing” to a washer will yield information on how far along it is in its wash cycle. For now, talking to appliances can only be accomplished through its HomeChat app or — more importantly — the LINE messaging app. It’s honestly not hard to see why LG teamed up with who they did here. There’s no shortage of Korean messaging services that the company could have aligned with, but LINE’s current registered userbase is hovering at around 300 million users and CEO Akira Morikawa has said that he hopes to get the service over the 500 million user mark in 2014. That means that LG’s array of home gadgetry just became more relevant to a new swath of users. And if LG has it’s way, this will only be the tip of the iceberg: Ahn said that LG is trying to ink similar deals with other major messaging services, though he didn’t spend much time (i.e. none) naming names. Considering LG’s Korean clout it wouldn’t be a surprise to see players like KakaoTalk get the remote home control nod, but there’s no way that LG isn’t trying to lock up support from big boys like WhatsApp and — perhaps most important — China’s WeChat.
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