Android creator Andy Rubin and his team have introduced the newest competitor to the Amazon Echo called Essential Home. The new home assistant appears to be similar in size to the Echo Dot but with a bright circular display on top of the device. According to the company’s website, the device can be activated through voice, a tap or even a glance. Similar to the Amazon Echo, Essential Home can play music, set an alarm, answer questions or control other smart home device and the screen can automatically display relevant information to the user.
A Smarter Home Device?
The Essential Home also runs on its own operating system called Ambient OS which can “automatically introduce itself to new and existing devices and helps set them up in no time.” While no specific details were given about how this functionality will specifically work, a blog post states that:
“Ambient OS is aware of the physical layout of your home, the people that live in it, services relevant to both your home and the people within, and devices.”
The blog also states that Ambient OS is able to create applications that extend beyond the reach of a single device. For instance, a user can set up a timer through Essential Home and have the lights in the living room flash when it goes off.
Privacy as a Key Differentiator
In addition to touting the capabilities of Essential Home’s new operating system, another main feature continuously mentioned on the site is in relation to privacy. The team believes that data belongs in the home, not in the cloud. Unlike other smart speaker devices, most of the processes will be performed on the device itself, instead of a remote cloud server. For instance, your meeting schedule and shopping list will now only be accessible within your home and not by others in the cloud. The company believes “devices are your personal property” and considering privacy is a barrier for smart home adoption, the Essential Home could use this feature as a way to compete with the Amazon Echo and Google Home.
No information has been given yet about the pricing or availability of the Essential Home. However Andy Rubin is expected to discuss the Essential Phone and Home device at the Code conference tonight at 6 pm PDT / 9 pm EDT. To watch it live, click here.