TikTok-parent ByteDance launches its first gadget in a big education push

ByteDance on Thursday unveiled its first consumer hardware product, a smart light lamp with a display, that it says is part of its education technology portfolio as the Chinese internet giant continues to expand to categories beyond social video.

The Dali smart lamp features a display, camera and built-in digital assistant. The Dali smart lamp (in Chinese), which starts at $119, is aimed at school-going children who can use the device to finish their homework, ByteDance said (in Chinese) at a press conference. The camera will enable parents to tutor their kids and check in remotely via a mobile app.

The smart lamp could prove successful in China where, like many other markets, a large number of parents struggle to find a balance between their work and personal lives, and engage better with their kids.

Zhou Kang, founder of Czur, a Chinese startup making connected devices, including smart lamps that rival those of ByteDance, told TechCrunch that it’s still an experimentation phase for companies that are building smart devices aimed at kids. “Customers will form their preferences for software and content. It will be challenging to drive software demand through hardware sale. Nonetheless, [ByteDance’s attempt] gives parents more options.”

ByteDance said the smart lamp is part of the company’s push into its education category, which it is now calling Dali Education (Dali is Chinese for big force). The Chinese giant, which owns viral short-video app TikTok, forayed into the education category several years ago.

The company today runs a range of education services, including GoGoKid, which teaches kids English classes, and Qingbei, which replicates the classroom experience. All of these products, including Guagua Long and Open Language, are now part of the Dali Education umbrella.

Last year, ByteDance’s TikTok also expanded its education offerings in India, which until New Delhi banned the app in the country in late June this year was its biggest market outside of China.

The company said more than 10,000 employees are already working on its education arm. No word on whether ByteDance plans to launch the Dali smart lamp outside of China.

Rita Liao contributed to this report.