Technology

Google Highlights Machine Learning At I/O

Google held its I/O Developer Conference this week, and much of the focus was on machine learning and related technologies. One of the new products the Internet giant showed off was a new custom chip that runs artificial technology, but as always, there was lots to see.

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Google Assistant

UBS analyst Eric Sheridan said one of the most important announcements was Google Assistant, which is a new digital personal assistant that appears to be much more advanced than Google Now. Interactions with Assistant will take on a more human-like nature as it will offer two-way conversational dialogue using the company’s natural language processing technologies. Jefferies analysts said the company is far ahead of others in speech recognition and contextual conversation.

Assistant will apparently be so advanced that a user could stand in front of “the Bean” in Chicago’s Millennial pack and query, “Who designed this?” and Assistant would use location data to conclude that the user was asking about the sculpture commonly referred to as “the Bean” by Chicago natives.

The UBS team believes Google Assistant will become more and more important in the company’s product strategy as it moves further into machine learning and into the Internet of Things. Among the applications for the technology is Google Home, a connected device that’s activated by voice and is similar to Amazon Echo. It’s expected to be launched later this year and will interact with other Google products like Chromecast and Nest, plus third-party apps like Spotify and Pandora.

Android N brings virtual reality offerings

Google management also previewed the Android N release, which is slated for the summer. Three main areas of focus were performance, security and productivity.

The company also revealed DayDream, its new mobile virtual reality platform which will be built right on top of Android N. Google will include “VR Mode” in the next version of its operating system, and it will consist of a number of VR-optimized Google apps. Among the apps the company said will work with DayDream are YouTube, Streer View, Play Movies and Photos. Google is also working with other companies like Netflix and game makers to bring additional content to its virtual reality platform.

The UBS team believes Google is working on building a full virtual reality ecosystem around its already-existing products Cardboard and Jump.