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Google gains edge over Samsung in race for connected world

[THE INVESTOR] Internet giant Google has unveiled a range of new hardware and software products, including a smartphone, a smart speaker and a virtual reality headset -- an apparent move to flex its muscles in the hardware sector.

The newly unveiled products, many of which will be in direct competition with traditional hardware behemoths including Samsung Electronics and Apple, will likely pose a great risk to the conventional market players and allow Google to have digital devices closely connected with users -- a dream long chased by many electronics firms, especially Samsung.

Having rolled out electronic products, including TV and fridges, fitted with network sensors, Samsung has long been hoping to pry open the door to the truly connected world. 

Google’s virtual home assistant Google Home (left) and its Pixel smartphone. Google
Google’s virtual home assistant Google Home (left) and its Pixel smartphone. Google


Lacking advanced software solutions that enable the flawless use of connected devices, however, Samsung has fallen short of achieving its dream so far.

Google’s virtual assistant software controlled by human voices --Assistant -- is expected to play an integral role in helping the internet giant connect devices and users in a seamless manner.

The artificial intelligence-powered Assistant, which will be integrated into its hardware products such as virtual home assistant Google Home and Pixel smartphone, will serve as a brain for basically all its devices and services.

Unlike many of its peers including Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, which present answers to requested queries, the Google software solution can better process the natural language than its rivals and offers search results in one-sentence answers in a more natural way. Users will be able to web search, schedule events, set alarms and adjust hardware settings with their voice via Assistant-embedded Google Home.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai emphasized in his keynote speech at the firm’s launch event in San Francisco on Oct. 4 that the company’s ultimate goal is to make services and products personal to users.

“When I look ahead at where computing is headed, it’s clear to me that we’re moving from a mobile-first to an AI-first world,” Pichai said.

“Our goal is to build a personal Google for each and every user. Just as we built a Google for everyone, we want to build each user his or her own Google.”

He forecast that the Assistant solution would one day be able to speak to users with different voices and multiple personalities and even capture user emotions.

In a bid to expand its presence, Google has announced that it would allow third party developers to have Google Assistant installed on their devices and services, which will let users see the increasing number of connected devices down the road.

“As global tech firms Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple are all trying to nurture their own AI-powered virtual assistant, hardware-oriented firms like Samsung may feel the pressure not to get left behind in the race for connected technology,” an industry source said.

Samsung launched its own voice command mobile application S Voice in 2012, but the software is barely utilized by Samsung smartphone users due to its poor user interface and natural language recognition.

By Kim Young-won (wone0102@heraldcorp.com)
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