LONDON – Google is experimenting with the use of its voice-controlled Assistant as a way to control every device a user owns.
In an interview with Business Insider at Advertising Week Europe, Behshad Behzadi, an engineer working on conversational search at Google, described how Assistant could perform actions on a device other than the one where it’s activated.
“We’re working on all different types of outputs,” Behzadi said. “Quick voice output is really the best thing for many use cases, but we understand that in some use cases a screen is necessary.”
“Now that screen you can think of it whether it’s a small screen, medium screen, or a larger screen. For example, Google Home is well connected to the Chromecast. For many things you want to cast it on your TV.”
Behzadi said he was working on identifying the use cases for how such an ecosystem of devices would work.
“But then you have to ask yourself if I want a timer, do I want it on a bigger screen? Perhaps not,” he said. “We’re still in the early stages and we’re experimenting with all those possible outputs.”
At CES in January 2017, Google announced it was bringing its Assistant to Android TV, but can only be activated through the TV, not from another device.
In February 2017 Amazon launched a version of its TV streaming gadget, Fire TV stick, which had Alexa built in. And in November 2016 the Seattle based company was rumored to be developing a version of its Alexa speaker with a screen.
Behzadi said it wouldn’t be necessary for Google Home because users can get on-screen responses through a variety of Google devices, but didn’t rule out the possibility.
Long term, he doesn’t believe voice will replace smartphones: “We’re seeing more and more scenarios where the non-screen experience is suitable but both screen and non-screen will continue to be significant for a long time.”