Google Puts Its Cards On The Table With Google Now

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Smart Phone AI
With its new mobile search application, Google Now from Google looks to take on Apple's Siri head-to-head. Built on the Knowledge Graph machine learning system, Google Now will learn about users and potentially even anticipate their questions.
In a development that some are calling Google's answer to Siri, the company has released information on their Google Now personal assistant application.

Like Siri, Google Now can take voice commands related to phone functions such as setting reminders or sending messages, and field requests for information such as “How old is Sofia Vergara?” and “Where can I find a good Italian restaurant?”

Unlike Siri, Google Now was not designed as a "personality."  It works more like a traditional search engine, however by building up knowledge of the user, Google Now may even give you answers before you ask them.  For Google, this follows the design philosophy of "getting out of the way of the user."

Google Now also responds with speech like Siri. However, rather than passing along queries to third-party services such as Yelp for answers, Google’s helper makes use of the company’s recently launched Knowledge Graph, a database that categorizes information in useful ways.

Google Now also combines the constant stream of data a smartphone collects on its owner with clues about the person’s life that Google can sift from Web searches and e-mails to guess what he or she would ask it for next. This enables Google Now not only to meet a user’s needs but also potentially anticipate them. Virtual index cards appear offering information it thinks you need to know at a particular time.

Google now traffic information

According to Google,
It tells you today’s weather before you start your day, how much traffic to expect before you leave for work, when the next train will arrive as you’re standing on the platform, or your favorite team's score while they’re playing. And the best part? All of this happens automatically. Cards appear throughout the day at the moment you need them.

Google Now can automatically notify a user about the weather, traffic, upcoming appointments, flights, nearby businesses such as restaurants and cafés, sports results, public transit and travel information, and movie show times. It’s also smart enough to gauge that some things matter more than others. Unusually bad traffic on your commuting route, for example, warrants an audible notification, while events just appear on the screen the next time you check your phone.

Google Now is built on top of machine learning, a branch of AI concerned with using large amounts of data to inform decisions. Also like other Google products, Google Now gets better as the company collects more data and refines its algorithms.

The design of the cards also look cohesive with what Google is working towards with their Project Glass initiative.  Overall the direction of the company is aligned to offer potentially exceptional artificial intelligence assistance across devices and looks to become an even more intimate part of people's everyday lives.  

SOURCE  MIT Technology Review

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