Discussing future of voice technology (Assistant on Air)

Welcome to “Assistant on Air,” where we have conversations
with people that build for Google Assistant. I’m Jessica just. And I’ll be your host. Today we’ll be chatting with
Allen, who’s a Google Developer Expert for Google Assistant. Welcome, Allen. ALLEN FIRSTENBERG:
Great to be here. JESSICA DENE
EARLEY-CHA: So Allen, tell me a little
bit more about you. ALLEN FIRSTENBERG:
So I am a developer. During my day job,
I help my clients understand new
technology, where they’re going with it, best ways to use
it, and what to do with that. And I am also a Google
Developer Expert. So I help other developers
understand the technology, understand how to
develop for it, and bring it into
their applications, their needs, their communities. JESSICA DENE EARLEY-CHA:
That’s awesome. That’s awesome. And you’ve been a GDE
for a very long time. [LAUGHS] ALLEN FIRSTENBERG: Sure
feels that way, yes. JESSICA DENE
EARLEY-CHA: But would love to learn more
about your experiences, but before Assistant,
specifically about your experiences
Yeah, so we’ve had Glass now for six years. It was first introduced
in 2012 at I/O then. And in 2013, we, as developers,
first got our hands on it and first really started
experimenting and playing with the potential
that a new form factor and a new integration
mode could bring us. Glass was very much the
forerunner of the Assistant. Many of the concepts
that we have in the Assistant today, the
invocation trigger phrase, for Glass, it was, “OK, Glass.” And we’ve seen how
that’s evolved. The interaction
with Glass, again, very similar to
what we have today, a lot of voice-driven commands,
a lot of audio responses, video, where it was appropriate
and where it’s useful, but largely an ambient
computing notion. So there’s this notion that
we are using our computers, using our technology
while still engaging with the world around us. And that was a very
important concept for Glass. JESSICA DENE EARLEY-CHA:
Yeah, definitely. So what are the
concepts or lessons learned from
development on Glass that you think translate to
voice and to the Assistant? ALLEN FIRSTENBERG:
I think the biggest is this notion of
ambient computing, that we need to be careful how
we’re designing our technology, how we’re designing
our interaction, because people are doing things
beyond the machine itself. JESSICA DENE EARLEY-CHA: Yeah. ALLEN FIRSTENBERG:
So in the past, we’ve had a notion of
being behind our terminals or being behind a
video screen or being behind a mobile device. And now, with ambient computing,
with Glass, with the Assistant, with similar technologies,
we are using our computers in the kitchen. We’re using it in
the living room. Our computers are there, but
they’re not the focus anymore. Our lives are the focus. And the Assistant is there
to help us live our lives. JESSICA DENE EARLEY-CHA:
Yeah, that definitely reminds me of 1970s sci-fi TV
shows or movies, where things are happening in the show. And they just talk
to the computer, and things magically happen. ALLEN FIRSTENBERG:
It feels that way. It does feel like we’re living
in that kind of a future, doesn’t it? I almost think that we’ve got
something even more powerful than we envisioned in
those TV shows and movies. A lot of those were
very non-conversational, very synthetic, very rough,
and not very personal. JESSICA DENE EARLEY-CHA:
No, they weren’t. ALLEN FIRSTENBERG: No. The Assistant is truly
a personal assistant. And I think
increasingly, we’re going to be giving it our
personal information and trusting in with our
personal information, because what we get in
response is very personal, very personalized information,
and a very personal way that it reacts
and works with us. We didn’t see that
in the TV shows. JESSICA DENE EARLEY-CHA: No, no. It was really robotic and
like, just do the thing. And yeah, it was just
a statement, do it, and that’s it. And it wasn’t as helpful. ALLEN FIRSTENBERG:
think that’s a great focus about the Assistant, is
it’s really focused on you. It is literally your Assistant. JESSICA DENE EARLEY-CHA:
Yeah, that’s awesome. So Allen, if we could
look into the future, and we didn’t have any
constraints on technology or any of that, what do you
think would be the cool thing? Or what would you want
to see in the future when it comes to the way people
interact with technology? ALLEN FIRSTENBERG: I always
like to think about how we– kind of the same
as what I’ve said, how we are taking the notion
of interacting with things on a very personal level. So how do I talk
to my documents? How do I talk to my car? How do I talk to my spreadsheet? How do I talk to
my shopping list? What does that feel like to say? What does it mean when I talk
about talking to a document? JESSICA DENE EARLEY-CHA:
Yeah, what does that mean? ALLEN FIRSTENBERG:
What does it mean? I don’t know. And in some ways,
that’s what I’d like to explore, what I want
to help other people explore, because I want all of us to lend
our own perspectives to what that means. And let’s figure it out. When I started with Glass,
we had certain notions about what it would mean. And we’ve learned since then. We’ve figured some things out. We have other we
haven’t figured out yet. JESSICA DENE EARLEY-CHA:
Yeah, that whole customization and how you would
talk to a document just makes me think about
how we interact just with technology currently. My terminal and my tech
centers are set up differently than I’m sure yours will. So I wonder, even the way
you talk to your document might be a little different than
the way I talk to my document. ALLEN FIRSTENBERG: Oh, I
imagine it wouldn’t be. And I think the great thing
about a personal assistant is that it would learn
what our habits are, what we mean when we
ask for something. And that would be very
different than how you do it. And that gives a
great deal of power. We talk about personal
computers used to be big things
that sat on our desk. And then we thought
about, well, the phone is the ultimate
personal computer. And I don’t think that’s true. I think the Assistant is
really the next generation of what a personal computer,
what personal technology really is. JESSICA DENE EARLEY-CHA:
That’s awesome. Well, Allen, thank you so
much for chatting with us. Really appreciate it. ALLEN FIRSTENBERG:
Thank you for having me. It’s been a pleasure. JESSICA DENE
EARLEY-CHA: So we hope that you liked today’s show. And if you have any suggestions
for future episodes, please leave a comment below. And follow us on Twitter
so you get updates into the new episodes. I’ve been Jessica. Chat with you next time. [MUSIC PLAYING]


  1. Coding in Flow said:

    You always pick very passionate people for your interviews. It's very inspirational!

    September 9, 2019
  2. Carlos Arriaga said:


    September 9, 2019
  3. AR MR XR said:

    Tell me more about the future of voice with Glass. What could visualizations possible with a display mean? Avatars are obvious but what else? Could visual responses evolve on smart screens and be the same in smartglasses?

    September 9, 2019
  4. Shameer Ummer said:


    September 9, 2019

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