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Google brings Home smart speakers to India

Google Home devices also come with a voice match feature that distinguishes between different users

  • Published: April 10, 2018 7:05 PM IST

Tech giant Google has launched its voice-activated speakers ‘Home’ in the Indian market as it looks to take on rival’s devices like Amazon Echo.

The Google Assistant-powered ‘Home’ and ‘Home Mini’ will be priced at Rs 9,999, and Rs 4,499, respectively. It will be available online exclusively on Flipkart, and in over 750 retail stores including Reliance Digital, Croma and Vijay Sales, among others.

“These products have been customised to match the needs of the Indian consumer. It understands Indian accents, and will respond to users with uniquely Indian contexts,” Google VP of Product Management and General Manager of Home Products Rishi Chandra told reporters here.

He added that Google has partnered firms like Saavn, Gaana, India Today and Aaj Tak, among others to stream content through the speakers.

Chandra said the company is looking at bringing in support for Hindi language to ‘Home’ soon.

Google had launched its ‘Assistant’ in India last year, which is now available across Android smartphones. Chandra said the voice-based assistant has received about 4.5 lakh proposals for marriage in India.

“Google Assistant is available in India in Hindi and English. It has increasingly become popular in India… We have 4.5 lakh marriage proposals to Google Assistant from India,” Chandra added.

He explained that voice is becoming an increasingly common way for computing and its Google Assistant goes further than search as it understands context.

Chandra emphasised that the device, however, does not record any sound passively and wakes up only with the voice command ‘OK Google’, following which sound is recorded.

“Users can go to the app and manage these, including deletion if they want,” he said.

The devices also come with a voice match feature that distinguishes between different users to provide a personalised experience to different individuals. It has been designed with two microphones that utilise a technique called ‘neural beam forming’ to enable accurate far-field voice recognition.

“Google has simulated hundreds of thousands of noisy environments and applied machine learning to recognise patterns that allow it to filter and separate speech from noise,” Chandra said adding that the speakers have varied use cases, right from search queries to streaming music to controlling lights in the room to managing calenders.

Last year, e-commerce giant Amazon had launched its Alexa-powered ‘Echo’ smart speakers in India priced at Rs 4,499 onwards.

According to Flipkart Head of Private Labels and Electronics Adarsh Menon, the entry of big brand in the smart home segment is important for expanding the category.

“The Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled devices category is growing, but it is mostly being driven by wearable right now. We think the entry of big players like Google can definitely propel growth in the smart home segment as well,” he told PTI.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.

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  • Published Date: April 10, 2018 7:05 PM IST

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