Google showcased the next generation of its virtual digital assistant, the Google Assistant, during its annual developers’ conference, Google I/O 2019. As part of the showcase, the company revealed a breakthrough in speech detection and recognition. This has significantly improved the speech recognition algorithm to such a level that the smartphone does not really need an active internet connection for the assistant to recognize and understand your commands. To clarify, Google stated that it has made its speech transcription and language understanding AI models lightweight enough that they can directly run from the smartphone.
For some context, current neural network-based speech recognition and language understanding models for Google Assistant amount to about 100GB in the cloud. The next generation reworked speech recognition and language understanding models amount to “less than half a gigabyte”. This means that Google can simply store these neural network-based models directly on the smartphone and run all the recognition and language understanding capabilities directly on the smartphone. This reduces the latency, eliminating the need for constant internet connection and instead, conserves battery life in theory.
Manuel Bronstein, the Vice President of Product at Google Assistant also stated that this break-through has resulted in the next generation Google Assistant being “up to 10 times faster” than the current Google Assistant. In fact, as part of a live demonstration, Google also revealed that users can “multitask across apps” in real time. Another interesting thing that we observed during I/O 2019 was that users can make multiple requests in a row without using the “Hey Google” hot-word to trigger the assistant.
As part of the announcement, Google also revealed that this next generation Google Assistant will launch in the market along with the next generation Google Pixel devices later this year. This means that Google Pixel 4 series will be the first to sport the next generation Google Assistant. We are not sure if the next generation Google Assistant will be hardware dependent for all its impressive feats or if it will purely be software based. However, the ability to talk to Google Assistant in areas with no networks will still be quite impressive.