Today Google announced that some new smart speakers will use its digital Assistant for a brain, soon enabling a whole set of home appliances from washers and dryers to vacuums to respond to its commands.
Big tech companies are vying to provide the personal digital assistant that helps you run the technology in your life, and in that contest reach is everything. That’s why Google (and Amazon and Apple) is trying to make its Assistant present in, or understood by, more and more consumer tech products. It made the announcement on Wednesday morning at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin) conference in Germany.
The Assistant is already accessible in the Google Home smart speaker, in some Android phones, in the Google Allo messaging app, in the Android Wear operating system for wearables, and on iPhones via an app.
The new Assistant-powered smart speakers announced today include the the GA10 by Panasonic, the TicHome Mini by Mobvoi, and the Zolo Mojo by Anker. Users will be able to talk to the devices in a natural voice to play music, ask questions, and control lights and switches via the Assistant.
“Since it’s the Google Assistant, you can expect great speech recognition, natural language processing and the ability to ask those ‘tough’ contextual questions (‘Where is the Eiffel Tower?’ followed by, ‘How tall is it?’),” writes Taneja in a blog post today.
Google points out that the Assistant can distinguish between the voices of various people using smart speakers around the house, so it can support multiple user accounts.
Google says the speakers will be available later this year, and that most will be available for purchase in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, Germany, and France. More Assistant-powered speakers will be announced later at the conference, Google says.
Google says later this year we’ll start seeing more home appliances like washers, dryers, and vacuums from companies like LG that can respond to commands spoken to the Assistant running on a phone or smart speaker.
Taneja says you’ll be able to give commands to the Assistant like “OK Google, start vacuuming,” “OK Google, are my clothes clean?” and “Is the laundry done?” The appropriate connected appliance will then respond by initiating a function or providing a status.
Like Amazon, Apple, and others, Google is trying to connect its Assistant with as many connected home appliances as possible. The company says the Assistant already can connect with appliances from 70 companies including Honeywell (lights), Netatmo (thermostats and cameras), and TP-Link (plugins, switches, network gear).
We’ll keep an eye on additional digital Assistant-related announcements coming out of IFA, and update this post as needed.