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Japan's Line recruits appliance makers for its smart speakers

Chat app operator will allow Sharp air conditioners to be operated by voice

Line is partnering with home electronics makers to operate devices like air conditioners via its voice-controlled smart-speaker technology.

TOKYO -- Line is joining forces with Japanese partners including Sharp to connect smart speakers to home appliances, hoping to combine its Line messaging app, which boasts 78 million monthly users, with appliance operation technology to develop new businesses.

The big U.S. technology companies led the way in linking appliances to smart speakers, but Line is the first Japanese company to offer smart-speaker services. Housing fixtures makers like Lixil Group and Rinnai are also developing so-called skills, the term used for what can be subject to a voice command, based on Line's Clova open-source smart speaker technology.

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