Amazon Echo 2 to rival Apple’s Homepod

The fierce race for the best smart speaker continues. Following the recent announcement of Apple’s Homepod coming to the markets around December 2017, Amazon is determined to steal some of Apple’s thunder in preparation for festive shopping with the release of Amazon Echo 2.

Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo 2

Improved Design

Engadget reported some details on the new and improved features of what they call Amazon Echo 2. Allegedly, the speaker will be shortened and slimmer with rounded edges for a more modern and pleasant look. The material will also be changing with outer plastic parts being replaced by a more fabric looking feel, something like Google Home‘s customizable fabric base.

Better Sound

Google Home
Google Home base

More tweeters will also be added to achieve better sound quality, which is a clear indication of their determination to rival Homepod and Sonos as they hold the best spot for speakers. The current version of the Amazon Echo is currently counting seven microphones, far more that Google Home’s with two and Homepod with six. This another area of improvement, which most likely will be achieved by innovations in the software technology and acoustic other than adding more microphones. Something that Google Home is already successfully doing with only two microphones.

The price

Apple Homepod
Apple’s Homepod

Another area of focus will be most likely the price. The highest spec Amazon Echo is currently priced at $180 and never changed in two years from its release. Can we expect a lower price to match Google Home at $130 (now on sale for $99)? They could easily decide to stick to the original pricing model as the newest rival, Apple’s Homepod alongside Sonos speakers, occupies the expensive end of the scale priced at $349.

Our Thoughts

All in all, we are very excited to see what will be Amazon offerings this time around. With the original release, two years ago, Amazon Echo was fully packed with new technology showing to be great creators and innovators. We don’t and shouldn’t expect anything less this time as rivalry in the smart speaker front is picking up with new players joining the race. Will they manage to stay on top? We will see this fall…

New Google Home features from the Google I/O 2017

Google I/O 2017

In the race to  achieving Smart Home Assistant supremacy, Google Home is definitely upping its game. A whooping total of 101 announcements were made made during this year I/O event. Biggest part of the news was directly related to Google’s smart speaker.

These are the most exciting and groundbreaking features that are available or will be soon available from Google specifically for their Google Home.

Smarter Assistant

Notifications, reminders, flight updates and traffic alerts are now available through Google Assistant on Google Home and phone. There is also the possibility to have personalised notifications by using multi user settings already available. 

One word, shortcuts. You can now add shortcuts to trigger specific requests. We tried with our TV and instead of saying ”OK Google, turn on Home Cinema” we can now say, “OK Google, TV time!” and it will turn our TV on. Pretty cool.

Music and entertainment

How many times it happens that you have that song stuck in you mind but you just cannot remember the name so you can play it? Wait no more, with Google Home , you can now go “OK Google, play that song that goes like …” and it works ♫ “I’m blue da ba dee da ba daa …”

Next one is for the music lovers, which you clearly are if you choose Google Home over Amazon Echo. Deezer and SoundCloud are now partners and Spotify’s choice of free music will also be coming soon. Get the party started.

If you are not the party type and you just like binge watching your favourite TV shows, good news for you too. You can now ask Google Home to play your favourite programmes and shows on HBO Now, CBS, All Access and many more. Now, you just need to order a pizza (which can be also done through Google Home).

More Languages

Recently we had friends from abroad visiting and although they like Google Home, it is just not available in their country. Finally, our friends from Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Japan will be able to use the Google Assistant on Google Home later in the year. Arigatō!

Following the latest Google Home’s additions we can only assume that the race will continue as Amazon will be hardly sitting still. Allegedly, later in the year also new players like Apple are also planning to join in. With players like Apple we can expect the race to become even more interesting. Expect twist and turns that only titans like Google, Amazon and Apple are capable of achieving.

Built to save lives: Guardian™ S, the new Industrial IoT Mobile platform by Sarcos

Guardian S

Today Sarcos, already known to the market for its specialist robotic devices mainly designed to function in perilous environments, unveiled their latest creation, first-of-its-kind robotic mobile IoT platform, Guardian S.

The Guardian S is a cloud-connected mobile IoT platform that provides inspection and surveillance capabilities in challenging environments with the ability of delivering extended run times and long-range wireless operations.

It can be used in the workplace to test particularly unfriendly environments like confined spaces and hard-to-reach structures as well as for rescue operations following catastrophes.

Available on the market from August 2017, Guardian S has the ability to scale the inside and outside of storage tanks, pipes, maritime vessels, vehicles and other vertical surfaces while collecting and transmitting critical real time two-way data. It can also detect the presence of hazardous and poisonous substances and sense for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive materials.

Working alongside Microsoft, Guardian S uses Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform and the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite.

Groundbreaking IIoT devices like Guardian S are aimed to add significant value to a variety of industries, including public safety, mining, oil & gas, infrastructure inspections, maritime, power generation, aircraft, and more.

The old preconception that robots will be taking over our jobs, is slowly fading away to look at a future where IIoT combines robotics with latest IoT technologies to provide instead safety for human workers and the public. These devices will take away the jobs that no human should do in the first place.

If you want to find out more about Guardian S, you can read about their case study http://www.sarcos.com/use-cases/use-case-guardian-s/