This post originally appeared on iMedia Connection.
This year’s Google Developer conference ended and we did not see any shiny new phones or covetable home objects. But that doesn’t mean it was any less important. Google unveiled some amazing new features and services that continue to push forward in areas such as AI, AR and location services. Here are five key takeaways and considerations for how these advancements could influence your marketing plans this year.
1. Google Lens
Computer vision and AI converge in Google Lens, bringing Google’s mission statement to life. By bridging the physical and digital world, Google Lens allows your smart phone to “see” and interpret your surroundings and then through Google’s ecosystem of apps, take action. For example, in their demonstration, someone pointed a phone at a flower growing in a garden and Google Lens was able to determine what type of flower it was.
They also demoed discreet physical/digital interactions. In one, they pointed the phone at the network ID and Password sticker on a home Wi-Fi router and it automatically connected the phone to the network. They also showed how it integrates with Google maps to give you AR information about your environment. Undecided about which of the three restaurants right next to each other to go to? Simply hold Google Lens in front of each location and it offers each restaurant’s rating.
New user interaction modalities (in this case vision) translate into new dynamic brand touchpoint’s. How will brands leverage a new on demand AR contextualized medium to further build their brand experience?
AR and computer vision is coming down in cost and computing power. Meaning we are more and more of it on our phones.
2. Google Assistant SDK
The Google assistant is not new. It released it last year with the Pixel phone. What is new is the Google Assistant SDK, which gives the world access to Googles entire ecosystem of services and the natural language AI platform built into Assistant. Imagine a voice UI credit card comparison tool for AmEx, or a digital assistant for CVS customers trying to figure out what cough medicine to buy for their sick child.
The release of the SDK means that any brand on any internet connected device can now easily integrate AI assisted services into their own products. Right now, the service is still tightly paired with your Google account, but the future vision this release hints at is very interesting for any service related brand.
AI and IA (intelligent assistance) have been a growing brand touch point for a while and with new voice and audio technology becoming more readily available, the trend will most likely continue to evolve.
3. Google Home with Visual Response
While the internet of things has yet to take off in force, we are seeing the rise of the connected home assistants such as Alexa and Google Home. But having an audio only output can be a limitation to the types of responses these tools offer and their benefits to the users. Amazon has endeavored to move beyond audio only with two new form factors for Alexa. One with a camera and one with a screen. Google is taking a different approach.
Instead of buying another object, Google Home is leveraging all the other internet connected devices and screens already in our lives. Ask Google Home about traffic on route to tonight’s party and it will give you the traffic report. Great, but not helpful when you are driving. Visual Response enables Google Home to send the best driving directions right to your phone. Ask Google about the Aurora Borealis, and it can send a beautiful time lapse video right to your Chromecast enabled TV so you can see it.
TV’s are becoming an increasingly important touch point for consumers. With shared login’s and user profiles, shopping can now happen via TVs as well as phones and computers. Brands need to focus on how they can thrive on that new interactive medium.
Watching content on connected TVs is increasing. A connected TV means advertising and content is now actionable. It is only a matter of time before TV’s become equally as interactive as our smartphones.
4. Android GO
Smart phones are not cheap. And the data they require makes them even less affordable. But there are billions of people that want to be online. Phone manufacturers are targeting this market with less expensive less robust smart phones. Android GO is Googles answer to this need for a mobile operating system that comports to the functional limitations of these low-end devices and empathizes with the users need to be cost sensitive about data usage.
The developing markets that are emerging online with these new devices presents a huge opportunity for brands. Our default assumption of always on always connected devices is being challenged and the touchpoints brands create need to take this into consideration.
Mobile data networks are ever evolving to be better and faster. But there is always the moment when we lose our data connection. Android GO reminds us that data networks are not persistent and that design can play a role in alleviating the negative impact of a dead connection in digital brand experiences.
5. Google VPS: Visual Positioning Service
You can think of VPS as GPS for small indoor spaces. The example they presented at IO was a product finder for Lowes. Once you are in the store, the phone uses computer vision to position itself relative to a known map of the store and can give the user exact turn by turn directions right to the exact product they are looking for. As they said in the keynote, GPS gets you to the door, VPS gets you to the product. This could be useful for larger organizations to help employees in large organizations find where co-workers sit.
This is a new technology, but if Googles general trajectory holds, we should be seeing some version of this as an API or SDK in the near future. Right now, for example, CVS could theoretically give you a $2 coupon when you walk through the door. With VPS, CVS could see that you have been loitering in front of the pain killers for 90 seconds and send you a coupon for their brand of Tylenol.
This is another step toward micro targeting. Late last year the EU launched its own competitor to the US run GPS called Galileo. The current generation of GPS is accurate to about 13ft. Galileo is accurate down to 3.3ft.
Brian Crooks is a creative director for digital and experience in New York. Follow him on Twitter: @briancrooks