A product team at Google is working on a hardware device that would integrate Google’s search and voice assistant technology, akin to the Amazon Echo, Recode has learned.
Google’s device will resemble its OnHub wireless router, according to several sources. We don’t know if it has a name yet, but internally the project goes by “Chirp.”
Google declined to comment. The Information previously reported that Google was plotting a competing version of Echo, a portable speaker with voice assistant tech.
Sources said the device is unlikely to launch next week at Google’s I/O developer conference, but plans are for it to land at some point this year.
We should, however, get a peek at it and its potential next week — voice search and intelligent personal assistance will occupy center stage at the company’s splash show, along with virtual reality.
Google has long had voice assistant tech in its Android phones — beckoned by the words “Okay, Google” — that many in the industry see as leading the pack. (People inside Google think so, too.) But it has yet to bake that into the home, a key growing marketing for Google and its rivals. Its OnHub router, released last summer, does not have voice recognition capabilities.
Amazon, on the other hand, has moved headlong into the home with Echo. One analyst estimated that Amazon has sold three million units.
And Echo is collecting the type of data — what consumers search for, listen to and buy, and how they talk to machines — that Google loves. Amazon has long been considered a big threat to Google’s core business as web and mobile app users go to the online retailer for product searches.
As we reported earlier, Nest, the connected device company under Google parent Alphabet, had considered building an Echo competitor as well. One reason it did not was concern over how consumers would receive a voice-controlled assistant run by Google.
Recode Video: Tough questions for the Amazon Echo