Google is making the Assistant a bit smarter in your smart home

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What you need to know

  • Google announced upgrades to Google Assistant in smart home devices.
  • The AI assistant is better able to recognize devices based on context such as what room you're in.
  • Google warns that recent changes may affect how it responds to commands based on what consumers are used to.

Google is constantly working on ways to improve the smart home experience, and much of that comes down to Google Assistant. On Thursday, the company announced upgrades to how Google Assistant handles requests that aim to improve how it responds to them.

In the blog post, Google highlights how Google Assistant should soon be able to better recognize devices throughout your home. One example it gives is that you can say, "Turn off the fan," and the AAssistant will complete the request using contextual information, such as where you're located, based on the device you're speaking to.

The Assistant should be able to better recognize devices as well, even if you don't call them by their designated name. So you can say something like, "Turn the lamp off," and Assistant will match the request to a device named "bedroom lamp."

And thanks to the upgrades, Assistant will be able to better understand location-based requests for devices in your home. Google gives the example of telling a robot vacuum to "clean the kitchen, living room, and dining room," all in the same command.

Google explains that these upgrades result from "large scale neural networks" that learn by example and use that experience to respond to requests more accurately. This sounds a bit like what Google demonstrated earlier this year when it showed off PaLm-SayCan, which aims to help robots better understand natural human speak and open-ended requests.

That said, Google says there are trade-offs to this upgrade. As a result of the changes to how Assistant understands and responds to requests, the company warns that "some commands that worked in the past may no longer work." As a result, the company is releasing the changes gradually to monitor the response. Google also encourages users to provide feedback in its Home Automation community forum.

Derrek Lee
News Editor

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.