As we gear up to Google’s launch event in San Francisco next week, eyes are not only on the company’s new line-up of Pixel phones, but also on the extended range of smart home accessories expected to be on display. Google Home, a WiFi-connected smart speaker, could turn out to be one of the more important announcements made at the event, as Google prepared to ramp up its efforts in the smart home space and prepares to take on the increasingly popular Amazon Echo.
HiFi audio sales have been rejuvenated by the introduction of wireless Bluetooth and WiFi systems, and the early success of Amazon’s Echo suggests that there’s a growing consumer appetite for tying these systems in with virtual assistant and smart home products. Amazon has reportedly already sold 3 million Echo speaker systems this year, and is aiming to ship 10 million units in 2017. Google clearly does not want to be left behind, and already has an extensive ecosystem of virtual assistant based technologies, including search and app integration, that Google Home will be able to make use of.
According to a report by Variety, Google has been in talks with manufacturers to begin building other devices that will work just like Google Home. Apparently, details were discussed at a closed-door talk with some 50 participant from the home audio market. This suggests that we may end up seeing smart speakers from a variety of manufacturers, all powered by the Google Home could-based assistant.
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Importantly, another source alleges that Google may not allow these companies to combine their hardware with other virtual assistance, not that this demand is particularly uprising. Although manufacturers may be reluctant to put all their eggs into Google’s technology. However, some of the companies involved are said to have already worked with Google to produce speakers powered by Google Cast, a list which includes major brands such as Sony, Philips, LG, JBL, and Bang & Olufsen. However, Google has declined to comment on whether it will be working with any third-party manufacturers on this.
Google Home was originally announced back at I/O 2016, so we already know quite a bit about it. The little hub integrates a built-in Bluetooth speaker and microphone, which is paired up with Google Assistant to answer questions and respond to commands. The system is also integrated with Cast, so consumers can launch audio from compatible devices and apps, including Spotify, Tunein, Pandora, and more. Cast capabilities also mean that customers will be table to launch YouTube videos and other steaming services on their TV just by issuing a command to Google Home.
Essentially, Google Home is the company’s big play to bring its mobile assistant services to the home. Google’s portfolio of smart products may also assist the company in catching up with and leapfrogging Amazon Echo. Nest technologies have been incorporated to work on the project, opening up the possibility that other products around the home could be controlled from your speaker system.
According to an insider at the meeting, companies may be ready to unveil speakers with built-in Google Assistant integration as early as next summer. 2017 could be the year that smart homes really hit the mainstream.