While Facebook and Microsoft are busy building discreet bots to squawk at you in messenger programs, Google’s taking another angle. Google Assistant, artificial intelligence and search to let people not just get answers to their questions but to even control their devices.
“We think of it as a conversational assistant, having an ongoing two-way dialogue with Google,” Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, said during the keynote at Google I/O today in Mountain View, Calif. “We want to get things done in the real world. Think of this as building each user his own individual Google.”
The company also announced that Google Assistant software will be built into a new device dubbed ‘Google Home’. A small device, which can sit in the palm of your hand, looks reminiscent of Amazon’s Echo and is built so users can ask it questions and give it verbal instructions. That allows it to manage and control home entertainment systems as well as your smart home devices.
With a built-in speaker, Google Home will play your music from the cloud or your device and it will respond to questions you ask, whether it’s about traffic congestion on your route to work or how much fat is in an avocado.
It also ties in the personal knowledge that Google already has about you to tie your natural language queries to your specific scenarios. In an onstage example, Pichai asked “What movies are playing tonight?” and the Assistant pulled up results of films that Google thinks he would like, playing at his local movie theatre. Follow-up questions—all delivered in natural language, using commands like “Is it any good?”—let him refine the search to kid-friendly movies, and even buy tickets to his chosen show.
“Having access to the Google Assistant will make this like a voice-activated connection to the real world,” he added. “We’re designing Google Home to connect to your smart home seamlessly. In the future, we will work with developers to go beyond the home, like managing your car and sending your mom flowers.”
During the keynote, Google also announced that Google Assistant is being incorporated into a new chat app called Allo, as well as into a new video chat app called Duo.Queiroz also noted that Google wants to work with third-party developers to move Google Home out of the home.
That’s the plan for the software that Google envisions which will be embedded in devices from smartphones to home devices and, eventually, cars.