Most people know Google to be an extremely popular customer-facing company, but a large part of Google’s empire lies in its enterprise solutions. From Google’s productivity tools to its business suite that unlocks the power of the drive, the email dashboard, calendar/organizer, all to streamline your business and your meetings, Google’s services play a very integral role in fostering collaboration, increasing productivity, and enriching businesses, both large and small… however, Google’s enterprise solutions have always been limited to just software.
The Google Us is a conceptual smart assistant designed to aid teleconferencing. Made to look like a part of Google’s existing smart hardware family, the Google Us is black, and shaped like a Home Mini, with a touchscreen. It runs a stripped down version of Android, and uses Google Hangouts to enable meetings and collaborative conversations by pairing with other smartphones and Us speakers running on the Hangouts platform. You can simply make group calls and conduct structured, timely meetings through the touchscreen interface on the device, much like a smartphone, but with a better focus on maintaining daily schedules and delivering crisp audio to both parties, thanks to Google’s efforts in audio engineering and far-field microphone technology. You can carry the Us speaker around with you, thanks to its in-built battery, and it even comes with a nifty wireless charger to juice it up!
The Google Us is a conceptual piece of work and is in no way affiliated with the Google brand.
Nearly one in every four homes in the United States of America has a smart speaker in it. That’s a real statistic, not a guess. I’d say roughly the same amount also own a tablet, like an iPad or a Surface. So why not mash the two products together? Weilin D’s AI Assistant is a combination of a tablet and a smart speaker… and its framework is pretty familiar. In fact, it looks a lot like an Amazon Echo Show, or a Google Home Hub, but with a couple of key differences.
Weilin’s AI Assistant comes as a smart-speaker with a display, but here’s where things get interesting. The display is completely detachable. Designed to be used as a tablet you’d have around the house, the AI Assistant’s detachable display is great for watching content, viewing recipes, checking the time, or having as an ambient, ever-changing photo frame. The display detaches off the dock, which is the smart-speaker. Built with a wireless charger, the dock can juice up the tablet’s battery when idle, and has a far-field microphone that allows you to use the AI Assistant as a smart speaker to command it to play music, answer or reject calls, set reminders, control smart-home products, or order stuff online. Housed within the dock is also a sliding camera that conveniently stays blocked by the tablet. When you’re in the mood for a video conference, the camera slides up and allows you to do video-chats with other people, quite like Facebook’s Portal device, but with a stronger focus on privacy. Once you’re done, the camera slides back into its enclosure.
Designer: Weilin D
Quite simply and aptly titled the Smart Set Top Box, Weilin D and Xican Deng’s conceptual tv box does much more than broadcast televised content to a display. Just as the title of the article suggests, the Smart Set Top Box is capable of much more. With in-built stereo speaker, the set top box complements its crisp visuals with ‘banging’ audio to match, and when not connected to the television, the set top box works as a smart speaker too… However, its feature list doesn’t quite end there. Housed in the top of the box is a retractible webcam that also allows you to make video calls using your television as a display, because Facetime/Skype on a 4K television is quite the experience to have!
Designers: Weilin D & Xican Deng
With a retro name and a personality to match, the Xiaomi Elvis Atomic is adorably small, and is styled to look like a miniature memento or trophy, rather than a Bluetooth speaker. Its design pulls inspiration from the turntable, and looks like it belongs somewhere in Fallout 76, according to Mike Chua.
The tiny yet powerful speaker comes in a military olive green and has a speaker grille where vinyl would be. Armed with a simple on/off switch, a knob for volume control, and 7 hours of playback, this CES Innovation Award winner is cute, capable, and memorable all wrapped into one package!
The shape of the ONOFF speaker needs literally no introduction if you’ve ever used a gadget in the past 5-10 years. Ever been around a smartphone, a tablet, or even a laptop? Chances are you’ve seen something quite similar. The toggle-switch UI. Found in most Settings areas of apps, websites, and systems, the toggle-switch lets you switch on or off a feature… and is ubiquity makes it a perfect visual metaphor for being on or off. Yongha Yang took that digital UI and turned it literally into the most physically enjoyable wireless speaker.
Meet the ONOFF. Chances are you’ll never need a manual for using it. Its interaction is just incredibly simple and intuitive enough to grasp literally the moment you see it. The circular speaker sits inside a capsule-shaped housing, sliding left and right. When the speaker’s on the left, it’s off, and conversely, shift the speaker to the right and it switches on… just like the virtual toggle switch. The speaker rotates too, allowing you to control the volume, while LEDs inside it light up in Google Home Mini fashion to tell you what volume you’re listening at. Simple, sophisticated, and just downright sensible!
Designer: Yongha Yang
“Big Sound for Music’s Tiny Fans” is perhaps the best way to describe the JBL Jr Pop, a conceptual speaker created by Shenzhen-based Kim Hyojin.
A winner of both the Red Dot Design Concept Award and the iF Design Award for the year 2019, the JBL Jr Pop is a junior speaker, designed to be child-friendly, and give children their dedicated music-listening device. The Jr Pop is small, light, rugged, and comes with a leash that the child can use to carry their sound with them. A comforting ring of light around the speaker gives it a halo, illuminating the branding, and captivating the child with dancing light visuals as they listen to music.
The Jr Pop is loosely based on the JBL Clip speaker design, sans the carabiner clip. It pairs via Bluetooth, probably to the family iPad or to a parent’s smartphone, playing music for the child, and is designed to give them the joy of having a personal musical experience, powered by JBL’s remarkable audio technology!
Designer: Kim Hyojin
Now if a Google Home or an Apple HomePod could give me inputs on how to stay healthy, by collating my information and giving me tips on how to live a better life, I’d definitely consider it. If a home assistant could tell me if my sleeping patterns needed improvement, or that my diet could use some tweaking, or perhaps some outdoor time for my heart-rate, that’s what I’d really value in a home assistant. Nokia’s Home tries to be that guardian. Designed as a conceptual device by Rik Oudenhoven during his time at Nokia, the Nokia Home is a completely re-imagined device. Designed to do more than just connect you to internet-based services that collect data and generate revenue, the Nokia Home allows you to live a better life… aside from listening to music!
It collates data from all your devices, allowing the Home to map out your lifestyle, from your activity, to nutrition, to sleeping patterns. It then uses this data to give you advice on how to live better, from something as simple as sitting correctly or sleeping correctly, to more complex changes like suggesting dietary preferences. In short, it focuses its data collection around the overall wellbeing of its user… while respecting privacy! Yes, Nokia, a Finnish company, in compliance with European Union laws and the GDPR, works without compromising the privacy of its user. The Home, aside from protecting your data, gives you the ability to mute the Home Assistant whenever you want, making sure it doesn’t collect further data on you until you choose for it to do so!
Designer: Rik Oudenhoven
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