Some exciting developments came out of the annual Google i/O developer conference held in San Jose recently. Our contributor Matthew Pyke summarizes some of the key takeaways:

VPS (Visual Position System

For a long time now, GPS systems have been able to take us from door to door. Now, VPS technologies are able to navigate us to the exact item inside the store.  Instead of using satellite signals to find out exactly where you are, it takes the camera’s view and figures out the distance between objects to find out the position of the items.  Similar to the technology that is used in the DJI Phantom 3 Drone to detect objects in flight.

VPS is a big step forward to helping visually impaired people, it will make it a lot easier for them to navigate inside buildings and especially in the aisles of stores.  When this technology is officially released by Google it will slowly become an unmissable feature for retail stores as it will be an integral part of the customer experience.

Google Lens

The next natural AI progressions, after the success of Voice features across different Google products like Search and Home, is that of Visual and Visual Search.  Google are able to understand the attributes behind the pictures, their computers are better at image recognition than humans.  Computer Visual recognition is getting so intelligent that it can enhance a low light, noisy image. Soon, they will be able to also remove obstructive objects from images to save you many long hours on Photoshop! Google now wants to take the AI and bring it to Visual Search!

Google Lens takes all of this visual information, understands exactly what it is and helps you take action on the information.  Typing will become less used and photography based search will be used a lot more. The data that Google can generate from a user’s past searches to recommend will also be phenomenal.  People tend to only take photos of products, product types and places that they are interested in, so this is golden for Google as they can find out exactly what users want to see and can provide more accurate suggestions.

Google Lens’ is now integrated with Google Photo, it detects faces in images and you can automatically share them with select people.  In past photos, Google Photo picks up buildings and Lens recognises the building and provides all the relevant information.  Google also announced Photo Books an offline photo album printing service so you can have a physical copy of your memories.

Google Home

Home is set to be more useful than ever for the consumer with the Proactive Assistant.  Just as an Android mobile device would pick up an issue like traffic on the way to work, Home will too.  There will be lights on the top of Home, to activate speak and it will tell you what’s wrong. Visual responses are now possible with Home with the connectivity of your phone, tablet and TV.  For example, if you ask a question like “Show me my calendar” it will either open on your phone, tablet or TV.  Hands free calling is finally here, very overdue but nevertheless it’s here now! It can detect who is calling you so the person you are calling recognises your number.  Bluetooth connectivity is also possible now, so you can connect any Bluetooth enabled device to play music through.

Google Assistant

Soon Google Assistant will know more about us than we do AND it’s available on iOS devices.  Commands are expected features now and it’s now time for conversations, the devices take multiple commands in context.  The same way we would talk to different people, Assistant links with Google Home and needs to be able to understand the same ways we would ask for something.  Think of how politely you would ask your Mother to turn the lights off vs asking your best friend to turn it off, Assistant can understand it to that level.  It learns specifics of each user (it was announced 2 weeks prior to I/O 2017 that Assistant will recognise up to 6 different voices) like how much is a “little bit” when asking Google Home to turn down the lighting. “Actions on Google” are the perfect all in one solution for transactions including payments, identity, notifications, receipts and account creation.

Assistant is now available to developers too,  so when a user types in they want some pizza for example, instead of a list of where you can get pizza near you, developers can put entire menus in there and offer delivery.  This will be very interesting to see what this does to local SEO. It will also be interesting to see how many manufacturers build in the Google Assistant SDK into their products and how they do it.

Android GO

This is the software aiming to increase the performance of budget smartphones so there is more connectivity between everyone in the world.  More specifically for developing countries where contract phones are not usually an option, so phones are usually bought outright. YouTube Go has already been tried and tested but it has been proven that it was just part of a larger plan.  There will be other apps to accommodate phones with 1GB memory.  You can still download every app that is on the Play Store but Google would recommend downloading the Lite versions of the app.

TensorFlow

Google’s just announced the sheer power of their new machine learning tool, it has 64 process units going at the same time, previously it has been limited to 8 and then 16.  Their new machine learning tool now blows their old machine learning tool out the window and sets the industry standard.  The rate at which they process information means they can learn a lot quicker and therefore want as much information as possible, in the hope that if you want to learn anything about machine learning then you go to Google’s cloud services.  They also wish to provide better future products and solve problems, but nothing was mentioned at the I/O 2017 Keynote.  Google are giving 1000 TPUs away to researchers and the formal application process will start soon.

It will be interesting to see the reaction of Amazon and Microsoft to this news.

Contributor Notes

Matt Pyke is Founder and CEO of Fly High Media, a digital marketing agency based in Manchester City Centre. After starting out in web design, he moved into search marketing when he saw its potential to directly market to consumers and engage with customers.  He has also successfully run a number of other online businesses.