By Gerry Barker
MIAMI BEACH_When we think LG, we picture TVs and appliances, right? But as the South Korean-based electronics giant makes new inroads into the cruise industry, you can also add ultra-realistic displays, signage and even robots to the mix.
The company was here at Seatrade Cruise Global to reinforce their commitment to cruising, and Senior Account Manager Tracey Estes talked about how LG is bringing their expertise to the cruise industry "in a variety of ways."
Of course, the most obvious is the TV in-cabin experience. "We want it to be rich, engaging, thin, and give all the content the cruise lines want the cruisers to have. That's really important," said Ms. Estes.
She said their most popular models range from 43 inches down to 22 inches, and have to be engineered to withstand humidity and salt air.
But beyond TVs, she said LG is "excited to have a bigger presence in the digital signage for the public spaces onboard."
We have noticed that on the newer ships, signage is playing an increasingly important role, especially on the larger ships, where getting from one place to another, and remembering where the venues are, can be challenging.
"One of our big initiatives is engaging cruisers as they walk through the ship," she said.
At the same time, she pointed out "more cruise lines are asking for outdoor displays," like the large screens used for outdoor movies and dramatic visual effects. To that end, LG is developing the first marine-grade products that are IP67 (Ingress Protection) compliant.
How about signs that convey information and are transparent at the same time? They had an example at the booth. Ms. Estes pointed out guests can "sit and have a cocktail and still see the ocean" through a transparent display.
Using the latest OLED and DVLED technology, and screens that could cover a building, curve and use right angles, cruise lines can create immersive experiences that almost mimic virtual reality, such as re-creating a flowing river cascading down a wall.
But beyond displays, the star of the LG Booth was the newest member of the LG family, CLOi.
Standing five-foot tall, with big, blinking eyes, CLOi (which stands for CLever Operating intelligence) is a robot that one day may escort you to your cruise ship stateroom or serve you a cocktail onboard. At least, that's the plan.
Designed to support, not replace, the staff, CLOi comes in several models. The first model was used for disinfecting, which means they had to be very busy the last few years. This version is a "ServeBot," which might mean carrying dirty dishes or doing any job humans might prefer not to do.
She (he?) (it?) communicates via a front-facing screen. Ask a question and it will do its best to help. How about the winning lottery numbers, CLOi?
While still something of a novelty in this country, robots like CLOi are in wide use in South Korea, where their presence is more readily accepted.
Ms. Estes said there's still more testing to do before CLOi is ready to start cruising, but with robot bartenders already on some ships, chances are it won't be long CLOi will help get you to the Lido Deck buffet.
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