SAN FRANCISCO – October 4 was a big day for Google, the coming out of a new OEM inside the Web search giant. It may also mark a pivot for consumer electronics to an era driven by machine-learning services running in the cloud.
The company launched two smartphones, a smart speaker, a virtual reality headset and a Wi-Fi access point. Its Pixel smartphones and Home smart speaker are the containers for its machine-learning Assistant, the company’s most strategic product of all.
Google is already in discussions with OEMs about embedding in their consumer electronics products the Assistant, a voice recognition and search client. The client code currently runs on a dual-core ARM Cortex-A7 with 256 Mbytes RAM and 256 Mbytes flash.
The devices debuted at a press event in San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square. Quietly surveying the noisy scene of demo booths here, we saw David Foster, the former head of Amazon’s hardware group who joined Google two days ago as head of its hardware group.
Foster’s team at Lab126 was responsible for Amazon’s Kindle, Dash and Echo products. The Echo, already in a speaker-less $49 version, is well ahead of Google’s Home which won’t ship until November in a single $129 version.
In our chance encounter I asked Foster why he joined the search giant,
“It’s rare to find a moment when something this big is getting started,” said Foster. “Google is at the start of a long journey here,” he added.
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