Technology

Google Home: Hands on with voice-activated speaker

4 October 2016 Last updated at 20:48 BST

Google has launched its voice-controlled speaker, Home.

The device makes use of the firm’s artificial intelligence know-how to find information, play music and control other internet-connected kit in the home.

It promises to be an advance on Amazon’s rival Echo speaker because Home’s virtual assistant can handle follow-up questions, which is intended to give owners a sense of being part of conversations.

But journalists at the California launch were only given limited access, so a comparison is still difficult to make.

The BBC’s North America reporter Dave Lee spoke to Google’s director of user experience Michael Sundermeyer about the product.

Google has placed a virtual assistant at the heart of its latest smartphones and first voice-activated speaker.

The two Pixel handsets are the first mobiles to trigger Google Assistant by pressing their home buttons, somewhat like Apple’s Siri.

The Home speaker lets the same artificial intelligence tool be controlled without use of a touchscreen. It rivals Amazon’s Echo.

Google also unveiled new virtual reality kit and a 4K media streamer

The Assistant has two key advantages over rival systems:

  • it can hold a conversation, in which one question or command builds on the last, rather than dealing with each request in isolation
  • it draws on Google’s Knowledge Graph database, which links together information about more 70 billion facts, and has been in use for four years

However, the US company will have to overcome privacy concerns and convince users that chatting to a virtual assistant has advantages over using individual apps

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