Google In The Home #AtHomeWithGoogle
This is a special post by Michael Faro-Tusino on behalf of Techin5
The convergence of technology is a hot topic at the moment, with most companies looking into the future of wearable devices. Google however, are focusing on now!
At an intimate event last week in Sydney, Google had small groups do the rounds and experience how technology and your lifestyle can merge in a meaningful way that will enhance productivity, and add a bit of fun too!
First up, the living room. When we watch TV, statistics show we are engaging on more than one screen (typically the TV and a phone/tablet). Google were showing off how a tablet, like the Nexus 7, can be the centre for your entertainment. Not only controlling your music (exceptionally demoed with a Sonos Soundbar by the way) but also the seamless transition from watching a movie on your tablet, to sharing it with family on your tv, through Chromecast (a HDMI dongle for your tv, allowing you to access cloud content).
Carrying on from the lounge room, and sticking to the Nexus 7 Tablet, is the kitchen. Now, you’re thinking. “hang on, why would I use a tablet in the kitchen?” – the answer is simple!
With Google Play Books, your tablet can now become your own lightweight cook book collection. With the power of Android as well, you have voice controlled searching at your, well, voice! Ever wondered how high to put the oven on, given the recipe is in Fahrenheit? Not sure how many grams go in an ounce? You can simply ask, and Google Voice Search will tell you. The search engine in Google has been improved and advanced that far, it can now even allow you to compare nutritional content of two foods. Pretty cool eh?
Though, you may think the fun stops there, thanks to Google Now, you can set reminders like “next time I’m at the supermarket, remind me to buy sugar syrup” and, well, the next time you’re at your local supermarket, you’ll see a reminder for sugar syrup. Being Android, this will run on your tablet or phone. Not just tied to the one device (given the same Google account is used across your devices).
Recently, Google has moved from mobile devices (phones & tablets) into portable personal computing, known as Chromebooks (running the Chrome OS). Chrome OS is a cloud based computing platform, that will allow you to have all your information available to you wherever you are, provided you have a network connection. Their aim is to be affordable and lightweight, whilst still providing you with a fully functional device.
Being cloud based, Chrome OS takes advantage of a lot of Google’s online services, such as Google Docs for all your word processing, powerpoints and spreadsheets (and more) needs. You can also collaborate with others seamlessly, and see real-time edits for the document. Google Docs can integrate into Google Hangouts (Google’s video chat solution) and allow you to screenshare the document so you can discuss with others face to face. (For a bit of fun, you can also make people have funny accessories on Hangouts :p )
A service that I had not heard of, was Google’s Cultural Institute . This is perhaps one of the coolest things that Google has on offer. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see the works housed inside Paris’ Musée d’Orsay? Well now you can, without even leaving your own home!
What Cultural Institute allows is for you to inspect museums and cultural institutions from around the world, and see the collections they have on offer. You can learn more about events or people in history in an engaging way that is better than reading slabs of text for hours. Definitely recommend you check it out!
Finally, the thing we use every day, our phone. Google didn’t place too much emphasis on them, as well, we use them daily, so they wanted to show us other ways we could incorporate technology.
A demo we did see though, was of the improvements that have been brought along to Google Maps, including live traffic update and re-routing, along with route optimization for Cycling trips – directing the rider to the safest combination of bike only and shared paths, and then road. Now we’ve all used Street View to see around the area before, but did you know you can go inside certain buildings?
Trying to decide on restaurant to go to on a first date? You can use Google Maps from your device, find results in your area, then even see what they look like. That way you can make sure you won’t strike out because its a dingy looking place.
While that is a lot to absorb, it is stuff that you can do right now. Which was super impressive! But there is one final thing we got to play with – something more futuristic – Google Glass.
You may have heard of Google’s latest wearable device and boy were we impressed (well, we were impressed by everything to be honest). While it isn’t at the stage that it replaces your phone, more of a companion device, it has huge potential in easing the way we interact with technology and the world around us.
Simple things like being able to say “ok Glass, get directions to Manly Beach” and having the directions pop up in front of your eye, or telling Glass to “call dad”. It makes the everyday tasks easier, quicker, and somewhat more fun!
All in all, the event was pretty awesome, and a great insight into Google’s vision for having a connected world to improve everyday tasks, using the technology of today, to provide you with a better future.