Google has announced a new product at its annual developers’ conference I/O, Google Home.
While on the face of it Google Home is a speaker, it’s been designed to have a functionality that goes way beyond playing music. It’s essentially an AI-powered assistant in your home, with built-in microphones that enable it to respond to your queries and orders.
The speaker will always be listening, but will only respond to an initial statement such as “Ok Google…” It can then put your query straight into its search engine, or help organize your schedule through its access to your Google account.
Google Home will also have the capacity to be connected to domestic devices, such as thermostats and lights, acting as a hub for the Internet of Things (IoT) in the home.
Google Home makes sense
Google, the search engine, has long been a go-to for internet browsers. But it’s only in recent years that the company has sought to manifest its presence in homes physically. After the rise of Android devices, Google’s Chromecast has become an entertainment hub in many homes around the world. Now, the Google Home speaker looks all set to connect the dots.
The device is similar in concept to the Amazon Echo, released in the US back in 2014. Although a couple of years behind Amazon in releasing its own speaker, Google is counting on its advanced AI, voice recognition technology and the huge amount of data it already has on users to take control of the market. Google is also competing with Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana in voice assistant services.
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Google Home is coming out later this year for an unspecified price. You can sign up to be notified for updates on the Google Home website.
How we interact with the internet is changing
Ed Fowler, vice president and head of digital transformation at IT consultancy VirtusaPolaris, said that “by launching Home, Google is looking to compete with Amazon Echo, in that they are both changing the way we interact with the internet.
“Previously, everything was on websites which we had to visit and view. Now, voice activation is going to become a much greater part of our online experience. By building assets that mimic how people interact at home and at work, such as voice activation, our devices can become a central nervous system helping us to make sense of our world.”
“It is far more natural for us to ask a question out loud than to go online and browse the Google rankings so companies are responding by moving us beyond the visual,” said Fowler.
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Still a long way to go for full IoT integration
Ian Hughes, IoT analyst at 451 Research, points out that, while Google Home is a positive development, there are still barriers to widespread domestic adoption.