If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
In a meeting room this week at the Wynn–away from Google's temporarily rain-soaked outdoor booth at the Las Vegas Convention Center–the company demoed a tabletop touchscreen device that could display Google Photos albums, bring up directions from Google Maps (and send them to your phone), look up recipes, play music with album art, and of course load videos from YouTube. Google Assistant voice commands controlled most of the action, with the 8-inch touchscreen providing extra control and context. Google's software is a work in progress–devices using it won't ship until later this year–but it gave me the impression that the company is ready to take on touchscreen devices powered by Amazon's Alexa assistant, such as the Echo Show and Echo Spot. It also revealed an unsolved problem for both companies: How complex should navigation be on a device that's more like an appliance than a computer? As Amazon and Google are learning, the race toward simplification comes at a cost.
Each January, tech companies from around the world gather in Las Vegas to show off their latest efforts at CES, formerly called the Consumer Electronics Show, the biggest gadget show of the year. While the products and demos showcased at CES don't always reflect the technology you'll be able to buy in the near future, the show does offer some insight into where tech giants are putting their time and resources. This year was all about improving communication between smart home gadgets, making the car feel more personal, and putting screens everywhere imaginable. Here's a look at some of the coolest products we came across on the CES showroom floor. L'Oréal's UV Sense is a tiny sensor capable of detecting ultraviolet exposure that's small enough to wear comfortably on your fingernail.
Before the start of CES 2018, the only real smart speakers with a display were the Amazon Echo Show and the Echo Spot. But now that Google has partnered with several manufacturers to make a whole line of Echo Show rivals, a bona fide new device category has been born: the smart display. And based on the devices revealed this week, I believe the smart display will slowly start to outnumber smart speakers and will likely be the norm going forward. The simple reason for this argument is that the display makes such devices much more useful. Sure, you could have Alexa or Google Assistant tell you there's a Starbucks 1.5 miles away from you.
Lest you doubt that Google is serious about spreading its AI to every nook and cranny of the consumer electronics universe, consider today's CES 2018 reveal: Google just announced four new "smart displays" from Lenovo, JBL, LG and Sony, plus a bevy of smart speakers and TVs from other partners, almost too numerous to mention. And all these devices come with Google Assistant baked in. This is a shot across the bough of Amazon, whose Alexa digital assistant is appearing in more and more third-party devices, as well. Google also announced that Google Assistant is coming to Android Auto dashboard units, and gave an official name--"Actions"--to all the commands and queries you can voice to Google Assistant. But the big news centers on smart displays, which offer capabilities you won't find in Google's own Google Home, Google Home Mini or Google Home Max smart speakers.
LAS VEGAS – Alphabet Inc.'s Google said on Monday its voice-controlled virtual assistant will show up this year in new tablet-like devices designed by LG Electronics Inc and Sony Corp. as the technology company seeks to challenge Amazon.com Dubbed smart displays by Google, the new devices introduce tablet-like screens to speakers that can obey oral commands to perform tasks like playing music, dimming lights, locking doors and setting alarms. JBL and Lenovo Group Ltd also are developing smart displays, Google said. Amazon kick-started the market for smart speakers in 2014 with its Echo device, which included the Alexa virtual assistant. The company added a screen for the first time in June, calling the device the Echo Show.
It's been a while since Google showed up in a big way at CES. The company's always in Vegas, of course: execs hold meetings with carriers and partners, and the halls of the convention center practically overflow with devices. For the last few years, that's been enough for Google. Its massive installation in the convention center parking lot includes a twirling slide and a ball pit. You can barely turn around without seeing a "Hey Google" billboard reminding you of the power of the company's voice-activated bot.
Lest you doubt that Google is serious about spreading its AI. to every nook and cranny of the consumer electronics universe, consider today's CES 2018 reveal: Google just announced four new "smart displays" from Lenovo, JBL, LG and Sony, plus a bevy of smart speakers and TVs from other partners, almost too numerous to mention. And all these devices come with Google Assistant baked in. This is a shot across the bough of Amazon, whose Alexa digital assistant is appearing in more and more third-party devices, as well. Google also announced that Google Assistant is coming to Android Auto dashboard units, and gave an official name--"Actions"--to all the commands and queries you can voice to Google Assistant. But the big news centers on smart displays, which offer capabilities you won't find in Google's own Google Home, Google Home Mini or Google Home Max smart speakers.
Lenovo's Smart Display puts Google Assistant on 8- and 10-inch touchscreens. The result is a smart-home sidekick that adds a visual element to all the rich A.I. features we've already seen in the Google Home smart speaker. Announced Monday night at CES and due to ship around July, it's still too early to see how well Lenovo's Smart DIsplays will compare to Amazon's Echo Show (which earned high marks in our TechHive review). The hypervigilant Google product managers who orchestrated our briefing carefully focused the demo around what the Smart Displays could already do well, and shied away from features where the kinks were still being worked out. In short, I was allowed to try only specific, pre-vetted tasks (more on my experiences below).
At last year's CES, among the biggest technology conferences of the year, it felt like you couldn't turn a corner without hearing about Alexa, Amazon's virtual assistant. This year, Google is hoping to make sure that doesn't happen again. The search giant, which typically doesn't exhibit products at CES (formerly the Consumer Electronics Show), is making a slew of new announcements about the its own virtual helper, the Google Assistant, at this year's conference. Google revealed that the Assistant is coming to a variety of new devices, including new voice-activated speakers, Android-powered TVs, headphones, and cars that support Android Auto. The new Google Assistant-compatible speakers will be made by companies such as Bang & Olufsen, Altec Lansing, Anker Innovations, JBL, and iHome, among others.
In case you hadn't heard, Google's Assistant doesn't just live in phones, speakers and televisions anymore. You'll see the Assistant pop up in small, connected screens meant for use around the house later this year, and we just spent a little time with Lenovo's first efforts: the 8-inch and 10-inch Smart Displays. It's hard not to think of them as just a pair of surprisingly handsome tablets, but after getting a sense of how the Google Assistant works on a purpose-built screen, it's clear that Amazon's Echo Show has some serious competition. The 8-inch screen on the smaller Smart Display runs at 1,200x800, while the larger version's 10-inch panel runs at 1,920x1,200. Other than that, the two versions of the Smart Display are essentially the same.