It’s the age of digital assistants and artificial intelligence. Case in point is Amazon’s Echo launched in June 2015. This was basically a smart-speaker, which caught on and executed the user’s verbal commands.
This device evolved into the Echo Show in May 2017, incorporating a 7-inch touchscreen and a 5-megapixel camera which creates one heck of a visual interface, using the built-in assistant Alexa.
Dubbed as a kitchen assistant – the kitchen being the one room that unites nearly all activities of the house – the Echo Show was one of its kind, up until January 2018. Google has now launched four new smart displays (built by Sony, Lenovo, JBL, and LG). These are basically the already launched Google Home and Google Home Mini, equipped with a built-in touch-screen (available in 8- and 10-inches) and powered by the Google Assistant.
- This device needs to be plugged in at all times, so that the wake words (such as “Hey Google” or “OK Google” elicit prompt responses. They can be personalized to recognize each individual’s voice.
- Voice commands are all that is needed to play music, look up recipes, check weather updates, go through photographs, make video-calls and so on. Google is particularly stressing on the visual aspect of the device, which comes in handy in situations where graphics are preferred over audio signals (reading a recipe, looking at designs etc.).
- These devices are fitted with powerful speakers and several microphones, which can trap voice commands from across the room.
- Privacy concerns have also been met adequately; a mute switch can cut off the power supply to all microphones and another one can block the camera.
Though the second on the scene, Google still has to go a long way to catch up with the current market leader. Amazon’s Echo devices command nearly 70 percent of the US market. Some analysts are, however, wary of the public response to these devices, considering that much of these functions are now possible on a personal scale by smartphones. Nevertheless, this heralds exciting times for technology integration.