Cool Smart Home Assistants At CES 2018

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Until now, it seemed like Google was playing catch-up with Amazon. A two-finger swipe on the touchpad built into the right side of the glasses takes you to the home screen, while a one finger swipe advances you through UI, with a single-tap used for making selections. Both come out in the fourth quarter this year.

Las Vegas this week has been turned into a high-stakes digital battleground. Now that things have been upgraded to the full Google Assistant experience, you'll have a wider range of functions and tools available behind the wheel.

And it's sent out the clowns - a jumpsuit-wearing army of advertising associates wearing brightly-colored Converse sneakers and hovering around partner firms' booths to explain how Google's technology works. The Amazon Echo Dot sold for $29 during the shopping season, while the Google Home Mini sold for $50 (and much less with promotions from retailers like Walmart). Instead, the emphasis is on the Assistant itself. The company announced that Assistant will be coming to Android Auto in the USA starting this week. "What we're seeing is heavy competition between all the personal assistants", says Gartner analyst Brian Blau. Suddenly the device is more of a computer than an appliance. The smart display comes with Assistant inside and an always-listening feature to hear for commands.

From bathroom mirrors that monitor the blemishes on your face to toilets that lift the seat at their owner's approach, the connected devices on display at the world's biggest consumer electronics show are either marvellously convenient - or rather creepy, depending on your perspective. Another prepares to embark on a vacation and shuts off her lights by saying, "Hey, Google, I'm leaving". The company's voice-based digital assistant has been rolled out to millions of smart devices since its launch and will be seen in even more products this year including smart speakers, smart displays and Android Auto, among other things.

But these smart products can - and sometimes do - support multiple assistants.

The goal of the new website is to put gadgets from Nest (Google parent company Alphabet's smart-home unit) and the Google Assistant front and center, according to Bloomberg. For example, you can preheat your oven by saying, "Alexa, tell Geneva to preheat the upper oven to 350".

Google Assistant will be better highlighted on the revamped website. But manufacturers aren't taking the chance that they'll be left behind if one or the other assistant becomes dominant. The real question, he says, will be how Apple will differentiate itself, now that the key aspect of its HomePod - audio quality - has been co-opted by speakers such as the Google Home Max and Sonos One, not to mention others on the horizon. "Five years from now, we're not quite sure either". This is definitely not a system for the price-conscious. But it hasn't been a huge factor in gadget announcements leading up to CES. This interestingly makes Alexa a tougher competitor for Cortana. Most significantly they also include intelligence enabling them to discern faces, to set boundaries and perimeters, and to eliminate false alarms and only capture actual events.

Nonetheless, Google Assistant powered devices were at least in evidence in more water-tight areas of the show.

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