After sporadic attempts to enter the world of hardware, Google has laid down a marker with the launch of a range of new products designed to bring artificial intelligence (AI) into the home.
Announced yesterday at the firm’s press conference, the new family of hardware products includes a first Google-branded smartphone, a smart speaker, a virtual reality (VR) headset, a Wi-Fi router and a connected dongle, as well as intelligent home assistant software.
In a blog post, Google explained the launch by saying that the last ten years of computing had been about making the world mobile-first – making phones remote controls for our lives – but the next ten will be about AI, where interacting with computing is more intuitive.
Google merges software with hardware
At the heart of the ecosystem is Google Assistant – a machine-learning powered personal assistant and Google’s answer to Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa.
The software will be built into the entire range of hardware products in a bid to help consumers with everyday tasks in the home.
Central to the hardware will be Google Home – a voice-activated speaker powered by the Google Assistant. Users should be able to say “Ok Google” to get answers and help around the house.
Next up is the Pixel. Google claims this its high-end smartphone built entirely by Google to challenge Apple’s iPhone. The company claims it has “the best smartphone ever” and will give users unlimited cloud storage for HD photos and videos.
To keep users connected, Google has produced its own Wi-Fi system – an expandable system that lets you add Wi-Fi points – and Chromecast – a TV streaming device for 4k video.
As if that wasn’t enough, Google also announced Daydream – a VR platform for mobile.
AI marks evolution of a search giant
While not known for its hardware, Google has experience in this market. Nexus Q and Chromecast are two notable previous examples. However, these products have always been made by different divisions with Google.
However, the appointment of Rick Osterloh as head of hardware in April this year seems to have changed that. With such an interconnected set of products it seems clear that Google is benefitting from manufacturing all products under one roof.
It will be interesting to see what uptake of these products is like among consumers who have already had the opportunity to purchase similar devices from the likes of Amazon and Apple.
The Pixel ($649) and Daydream ($79) are available for pre-order now. Google Home will be available in November for $129, as will Google Wi-Fi for the same price. Chromecast can be purchased for $69 from November in the U.S.