Kicking off Google’s latest hardware event, the man leading its efforts said the company believed it could stand apart from rivals by placing its artificial intelligence prowess at the center of its design philosophy.
“The next great leap will happen at the intersection of AI, software, and hardware,” said John Osterloh, Google’s senior vice president of hardware. “It all starts with reimagining hardware from the inside out. AI helps us do this.”
Before Google began introducing a slew of new products and updates. But the theme was set from the moment CEO Sundar Pichai took the stage and said “machine learning” more than a dozen times before introducing Osterloh.
The latter claimed that Google had closed the design gap with rivals like Apple, with many hardware features and specs essentially becoming commodities. With the Pixel, the company felt it has achieved design parity on smartphones. And while he highlighted the recent acquisition of 2,000 HTC employees who were working on the Pixel team, Osterloh noted wistfully that while the phone was getting rave reviews, the company wished it could find a way to keep up with demand.
Of course, Amazon has been bulking up its AI efforts on the heels of the success it’s had with its Alexa-powered hardware products like the Echo. And Apple has been certainly ramping up its efforts in this regard.
But going forward, Osterloh insisted AI would be Google’s big advantage by making products simpler to use, particularly by extending voice interfaces.
“We’re still in the early days,” Osterloh said. “We weren’t the first with many of our most successful products. But in each case, we succeeded by doing what we’re best at: Reimagining the experience to make it easier for the user. Everything is designed to to let you keep the tech in the background.”