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A New Era for IoT Devices with Novel Google Assistant Capabilities Marked by Google I/O 2018

New technology is being worked upon every day, and app developers need to stay updated with the latest technology so that they can incorporate it into their apps and other development structures. Innovative companies like Google organize annual development conference which was launched in 2008. The basic purpose of this conference is to bring apps developers from across the world together and discuss the innovation in the open. This is where Google announces its new launches and provides a first look at their latest developer products, hands-on learning with Google experts, and talks. This year too, Google has announced new Google Assistant capabilities that promise a new era for IoT devices. Stay glued to read on to find more about these new capabilities.



Google I/O 2016 witnessed the introduction of Google Assistant
While introducing Google Assistant during the Google I/O 2016, Sunder Pichai had forecasted that the future of computing would be an ambient experience that will extend beyond devices. Google Assistant is the product from Google in which the company has put in their incessant efforts over the years focused on deep learning, natural language processing, and text to speech. The two very big launches powered by Google Assistant were Google Home and Google Allo. Google Home is a smart speaker powered by Google Assistant to compete with its rival Amazon Echo powered by Alexa and Google Allo is a messaging app with an inbuilt chatbot.

Google I/O 2017 and 2018
Google I/O 2017 dealt with the restructuring of Google and the reverberation of artificial intelligence brewing in Google Labs for a long time. During Google I/O 2018 the dealing was mainly related to humanizing these AI efforts and integrating them into Google’s line of products, mainly Google Assistant, which powers various IoT devices as in Google Home and other Google and non-Google devices.

Google Assistant facilitates two-way continued conversations
Google Assistant that has Google Now as its predecessor allows the two-way conversation of between Android users and their Android devices. This has been possible for Android users for the first time, though iOS users have already been enjoying this with SIRI. The user needs to use the hotword, “Hey Google,” followed by the command to get any work done, such as booking tickets, ordering food from your favourite restaurant, predicting the temperature many days to come, reminding of a meeting, etc.

Continued conversations have been introduced to Google assistant in the I/O 2018 event. For facilitating continued conversations, Google Assistant needs to understand the social dynamics of conversations deeply and figure out pronouns. This makes a natural back-and-forth conversation possible without repeating “Hey Google” for every follow-up requests. To add on, the Assistant can recognise when you are conversing to it versus when you are talking to someone else.

Though Continued Conversation is a top feature and in the coming weeks, Google will be rolling it out as an update, the Assistant still can’t handle complex commands.

Google Assistant can now perform multiple actions in a single command
Multiple Actions is a new feature introduced by Google using which the Assistant can do various tasks at once. Though when given directions to do multiple tasks human brains find it simple, it is very difficult for computers to understand. Though it may look very similar, it is not always very straightforward, and the Assistant has to break it apart to form two requests in linguistics. This is called coordination reduction.

Merging Multiple Actions and Continued Conversations to manage IoT devices
A voice controlled coffee making machine operated via Google Assistant in Google Home uses both Multiple Actions and continued Conversations features to brew a cup of coffee. In a single command, Google Home with Multiple Actions could understand much more. It is possible to ask it to brew a cup of coffee and dim the lights in a single command, and it gets done!

Continued Conversation ensures that the user doesn’t need to repeat any hotword multiple times for activating the Google Home device.

Google Duplex can now handle phone calls and fix appointments
Using the Google Assistant to engage in a two-way conversation is different from engaging in an all-out telephonic conversation. Using natural language processing, text to speech, and deep learning, Google has been working to develop a technology that can understand the tinges of conversation, talk to a human, and fix an appointment. This technology is a breakthrough for both users and businesses, so Google has been working hard to get it right. This technology is called Google Duplex and has been successfully attempted by Google during the 2018 event.

Many small businesses that do not have the online appointment booking system set up rely on the front desk person to respond to calls from people and book their appointments. This may get annoying for the front desk person, and so Google Duplex is a convenient option to use. The best part is that the Assistant attends the call in the background without causing any interruption for the user. It also sends a confirmation notification to the user after the appointment has been taken care of. Thus, not only is this technology a time saver but also adds a lot of value to businesses.

This technology is also useful for app-based on-demand delivery businesses. These businesses receive a lot of calls from leads every day for checking a demo before purchasing the product. The business may be having a nice demo to show their solution in action but maybe lacking the staff to call each lead and fix an appointment, thereby leading to losses in business. Google Duplex can, however, upload a spreadsheet containing the leads for the day and call each of them to fix appointments. The user then gets an updated spreadsheet with the time of appointment mentioned beside each lead. The business can then prepare to show these leads the demo while the Assistant can get to the work of fixing the appointment for the next set of leads.

IoT and AI are coming closer via Google Assistant
Using AI, Google Assistant is producing conversational IoT devices that can be available for common people and small businesses as well. By providing a human touch to the products, smarter IoT devices, just like Google Home will be available through device-independent platforms like Google Assistant. With Google Assistant already present in our wearables, speakers, phones, TVs, and tablets, the time is not far when all will have Google Assistant enabled refrigerator, thermostats, ACs, and other IoT devices in home, office, and transport and all these devices will work in unison and control one another.

To wrap up
Google I/O 2018 marks the combination of IoT with AI to introduce new Google Assistant capabilities that is a great boom for IoT. The enhanced capabilities of Google Assistant such as Google Duplex that can handle phone calls, a very Google Now-like interface of the Google Assistant that reminds of the Google Now, Google Assistant in Wear OS have made technology take giant leaps and what was called sci-fi a few years ago has now turned into a reality.