Bringing a visual interface to the Google Assistant, Lenovo today showcased the Smart Display at CES 2018. It is more like an Amazon Echo Show but comes powered by the Google Assistant. Google was rumoured to launch a Google Home speaker with a display for quite some time and it seems that Google’s partners will be implementing that approach.
The device comes in two variants with different screen sizes – 8 inches and 10 inches. There is a 10-watt full-range speaker and a set of microphones with which users can interact with the Google Assistant on the Smart Display. While not in use, it works like a digital picture frame showing images from a folder in Google Photos or other background images of your choice. It comes with a front-facing camera for video chats as well. Interestingly, it has a hardware shutter which you can slide over the camera to protect your privacy.
The Lenovo Smart Display works well with connected things in your home and can be the singular command hub for all your smart devices, including those using Google’s Android Things platform. At CES 2018, Google announced that, in association with Qualcomm, it will be bringing Assistant to smart displays powered by the Android Things and other audio devices.
Whereas, Qualcomm today announced two Home Hub platforms supporting Google Android Things – the SDA624 and SDA212 SoCs. These chips are aimed to offer developers and OEMs a cost-effective way to develop home hubs, featuring Google services like the Google Assistant.
With the Smart Display, Lenovo is the first company to come up with such a device based on the Qualcomm Home Hub platform. The Lenovo Smart Display will be powered by the Qualcomm SDA624 SoC and its 10-inch and 8-inch models are expected to arrive this summer. While the 8-inch model starts at $199.99 (Rs. 12,695 approx.), 10-inch model costs a bit higher at $249.99 (Rs. 15,865 approx.).
The Qualcomm SDA624 SoC also adds computing capabilities by bringing multimedia capabilities like a video camera, touch display and more to Android Things devices such as smart displays, home monitoring cameras, smart thermostats, and security panels. It also supports Google Cast, Google Duo, and Google Maps.
On the other hand, Qualcomm SDA212 SoC is will enable home devices and appliances with a digital assistant and audio capability. The SoC allows OEMs deliver comprehensively featured products that combine processing capability, connectivity options, voice user interfaces, and premium audio technologies all in one platform. Both of these chips have Wi-Fi 802.11ac 2×2 MU-MIMO and Bluetooth connectivity using Qualcomm’s QCA9379 chip.
Now, Google is working on to bring the Google Assistant to more audio devices. Today, Google announced that the Assistant is coming to new voice-activated speakers from Altec Lansing, Anker Innovations, Bang & Olufsen, Braven, iHome, JBL, Jensen, LG, Klipsch, Knit Audio, Memorex, RIVA Audio, and SōLIS.
Just like the Lenovo Smart Display, other brands including JBL, LG, Sony (based on the MediaTek MT8173 SoM) will also be launching Google Assistant-powered products later this year. In September 2017, Google brought the Assistant to NVIDIA SHIELD TV and Sony Android TV. However, one of the big announcements is that the Assistant will be coming to more headphones from Jaybird, JBL, LG, and Sony.
The Google Assistant is also coming to Android Auto in the USA soon. Users will now be able to listen to their favourite playlists from Spotify or Google Play Music, can get directions from Google Maps or Waze, or send or receive messages from services like WhatsApp. Google also mentioned about one special feature, that Android Auto users will love.
Very soon, users will be able to reserve a parking space with SpotHero or order their favourite handcrafted drink or food from Starbucks all while on the road. Google Assistant on phone, speaker or TV can check your car’s fuel level, lock doors, and more. For now, this feature is expanding to cars from Kia and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
Get our full CES 2018 coverage here.
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