Google's strategic move into selling own branded Mobile phones is another step in the merging of "Software plus Hardware" that Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and recently Facebook have realized at the making of the "Internet of Things" Era. This is the critical issue of not just providing the software and operating system but increasing the value in the devices that become the Interface to the Customer: the smart phone, the smart tablet/laptop of Microsoft Surface, the Smart Speaker of Amazon Echo and Alexa, and the Facebook Oculus Rift and Microsoft Hololens that are the new foundations of Natural Language speech recognition services and the VR Virtual Reality and AR Augmented Reality breaking now and into 2017 and onward. Google's long-term market is changing, the advertising revenue from search engines while still strong is now seeing new ways to search via speech or Virtual image recognition and virtual interaction Google has been late to realizing perhaps the shift to software hardware is where the Internet of Things may be shaping the market with the Connected Home, Connected Car and Connected Work through these devices. It's all about "market marking" beyond just the big cloud data centers and big data analytics to how to build out the edge of the cloud network with all these potentially billions of connected sensors and devices. If the Mobile phone is becoming the "remote control to this world" and platforms the "fabric of social networks and connected experiences" then Google like others is rushing to get into this space with stronger software and hardware offerings
During a non-stop, two-hour keynote address at its annual I/O developers conference, Google unveiled a barrage of new products and updates. Here's a rundown of the most important things discussed: Google CEO Sundar Pichai kicked off the keynote by unveiling a new computer-vision system coming soon to Google Assistant. Apparently, as Pichai explained, you'll be able to point your phone's camera at something, and the phone will understand what it's seeing. Pichai gave examples of the system recognizing a flower, a series of restaurants on a street in New York (and automatically pulling in their ratings and information from Google), and the network name and password for a wifi router from the back of the router itself--the phone then automatically connecting to the network. Theoretically, in the future, you'll be searching the world not through text or your voice, but by pointing your camera at things.
LG has placed its trust on Google Assistant and has given it the power to control its smart appliances. While it teamed up with Amazon earlier this year to give its refrigerators built-in access to Alexa, its partnership with Google is much bigger in scale. Now, you can control any of the company's 87 WiFi-connected smart home appliances by barking out orders through a Google Home speaker or through a compatible iOS or Android smartphone. Once you're done setting voice control up through LG's SmartThinQ app, you can use commands within a Home speaker's range or through a phone to tell your fridge to make more ice or to tell your AC to adjust the temperature. If you have an LG washing machine, you can ask Assistant how much time is still left before your load is done.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating water accounts for fully 18 percent of the typical household's annual energy consumption, second only to the amount of energy consumed to heat and cool their residence. And because the typical tank water heater keeps 40 to 50 gallons of water piping hot 24 hours a day, seven days a week--whether or not anyone is home to use it--20 to 50 percent of the energy is completely wasted. Following an aborted crowd-funding campaign in late 2014, Aquanta (formerly Sunnovations) is now taking pre-orders on its Aquanta "learning" water-heater controller, which it expects to ship in July. In a note to its would-be backers when it cancelled its Kickstarter campaign, the team said while its campaign was unsuccessful, the exposure it garnered lead to "a sizable number of large and exciting strategic and distribution partners to contact us." Fast forward 18 months and Aquanta CEO Matthew Carlson tells me his company has "had test units in the field for more than a year."
As video content matures and proliferates and VR content creates new interactive environments and as the way we access software and apps changes and evolves, PVAs or personal virtual assistants will radically influence the interface with the internet and these new layers of content and virtual experience. Viv is just four years old, but by the time IoT and VR matures, she will be ready to make the smart home, smart city and billions of connected devices truly come to life. While we assume it will be one of the tech giants: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple or Microsoft; disruption doesn't usually come from an established player whose interests and investments are scattered. Just as VR represents a new platform of information, content, advertisement, marketing and social media, and digital experiences, VPAs like Viv could represent another springboard to the future.