Sweden's Teenage Engineering is perhaps best known for its bare-bones pocket synthesizers, but it also makes wireless speakers. The company has announced a collaboration with Chinese web services giant Baidu and its recently-acquired AI voice assistant developers Raven Tech. The result is a pair of smart speakers that break the mold – H looks like a stack of brightly-colored saltines with a removable touch-enabled LED grid up top, while R takes that LED matrix top and puts it on a robot arm.

More than 6 months in the making, the collaborative project marries Raven's digital assistant technology with Baidu's online search prowess and Teenage Engineering's eye for electronics design. The first device to make it off the drawing board is named H.

In common with other smart speakers, H is able to respond to voice commands, search the internet for answers to queries and line up music to help lift the mood. But H has a touch-enabled LED grid up top that can back up its audio output with visual "dot matrix" expressions and can be detached to use as a remote for the speaker.

Specs are rather thin on the ground, but we do know that H features custom Tymphany drivers, has Bluetooth 4.0 and dual-band Wi-Fi, is powered over USB-C, measures 80 x 80 x 105 mm (3.1 x 3.1 x 4.1 in) and weighs 1.5 kg (3.3 lb), and will go on sale next month in China for CNY1,699 (about US$255).

Meanwhile, R is still in development and rocks the same speaker design as H but the LED matrix square is attached to a robot arm that's able to move over 6 axes. This means the smart speaker can get its groove on and dance to the music, which is sure to be a conversation starter.

H and R have both been developed for the Chinese market, but Teenage Engineering says that it's looking into bringing the devices to the west. You can see H in the first video below, followed by R below that.

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