CES showed us smart displays will be the new normal


A 10-inch Lenovo Smart Display with Google Assistant is shown during Pepcom's Digital Experience in US | Reuters

At CES 2018, Google is taking even more steps towards Assistant ubiquity, both with its physical presence at the show and its multitudinous announcements surrounding the nascent smart home space.

On the show floor, it smoothly scrolled through demo applications popping up info in ways we're used to seeing on our phones or through Android Auto. In the past couple of years, we've seen a slew of non-Amazon devices begin to offer Alexa integration, including 3rd party speakers, laptops, smart TVs, and much more. Lenovo is aiming to make Smart Display your all-in-one in-home entertainment/assistant device. LG of course had plenty to show off, namely its new Nano Cell Super UHD TVs and the new OLED G8 TV models, both of which look stylish, promising, and are full of improvements over last year's TVs from the brand. "[The firm] has proven that there is a logical use case for a hands-free assistant in the smart home".

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Google isn't really a hardware company. This includes Assistant updates such as voice commands for troubleshooting batteries on smartphones and payments of mobile-carrier bills, though it would likely be many years before Canadians would see the latter. Other manufacturers announced their own smart speaker products running the Google Assistant, or at least plans to adopt it. Drivers will be able to ask Alexa for news, control the entertainment system and control their smart home devices while driving. Google also now has an answer to the Echo Show, thanks to companies like Lenovo and JBL debuting Assistant powered smart displays. Apple's Siri-powered HomePod smart speaker was also supposed to be released during this period but the company delayed the release to 2018. One of the biggest highlights in my opinion, though, is the ability to make calls on Google Duo, something that's just getting easier and easier. Even Amazon, whose Alexa platform dominated CES in 2017, didn't have a physical presence at the show - numerous Alexa-related announcements came from partners like Whirlpool, GE, and Dish, which shared details on how the virtual helper is being integrated into their products. Behind the scenes, the online retailer has aggressively orchestrated Alexa's rise by dramatically lowering the barrier for any company to add it to their products.

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