DISH, the satellite television provider, recently announced Google Assistant support for both Spanish and English will be available this year in its set-top boxes. The company has had a voice remote since 2016 and recently announced an updated version. At the time of the voice remote update, DISH vice president of product management Niraj Desai said:
In the not-so-distant future, we’ll begin to navigate our TV experience the same way we navigate human conversations. Our new voice remote is not only a technological stepping stone as natural language processing and machine learning progress, but it’s also an effort to bring customers along in the process by increasing their familiarization with voice control.
The “not-so-distant future” seems to be only a few months away. While the earlier announcement mentioned some basic voice controls, the Google Assistant-enabled features appear to be far more extensive. Users will be able to rewind and skip forward in shows, search for television shows by genre and even ask a query like, “Show me Tom Hanks movies.”
This is the type of deeper usage of voice capabilities that goes beyond simply replicating functions that buttons on the remote can do today. It decouples content from channels. In the past you would look at channels to discover content. Machine learning behind voice queries puts the content in the forefront. You can still go to channels. However, you can also search for content and the channel is an afterthought. This is similar to an existing offering by Xfinity from Comcast, but a difference here is that DISH chose to partner with Google to enable the solution.
Adding Google Assistant Spanish to Voice Remote
The other significant move is the addition of Spanish language support. To date, most voice interaction news is about the English language with some focus on Mandarin, Japanese and Korean in Asia. Google Assistant announced Spanish language support for Spain, Mexico and the U.S. in early November 2017. This could turn out to be a real differentiator for DISH in the short-term among Spanish speaking users.
A lot of TVs have added Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa integration. However, these features don’t necessarily work when navigating your television content. That requires deeper integration into the content management system. This appears to be what DISH has done with Google Assistant. The DISH adoption is also a nice win for Google Assistant. The company is in a race with Amazon’s Alexa for third-party integrations and Google Assistant’s combined search and language capabilities make it well suited to use cases like you see with DISH