Friday, December 2, 2016

Our Personal Kitchen Assistant

This week we welcomed a personal assistant into our home. Or, to be more precise, FedEx delivered a Google Assistant.

It's a stubby, round box you plug into the wall. It listens for our commands and talks to us via surprisingly good speakers. It connects to Google services over WiFi.

It sits in a corner of our kitchen and has already changed how we do things.

We've eliminated the need for a paper groceries list. Instead we keep a list in Google Keep, an application I use frequently for quick notes.

We can update our shopping list as we use up items.
Me: OK Google, add a lemon to the shopping list
Google Assistant: OK, I've added lemon to your shopping list
We can review and update the list via Google Keep on our phones, tablets or desktop computers. As long as I'm carrying my phone, I have an up-to-date shopping list.
This feature is a winner. In the past I've tried various ways to automate shopping lists, including a barcode scanner, but have always returned to paper. Now we can add items to the list from just about anywhere, including when I'm standing at the kitchen counter with my hands covered in lemon juice.

We can tell it to play music or Internet radio or a podcast via our stereo system (using Google Chromecast Audio). I can ask it 'How many teaspoons in a tablespoon?" or tell it to set a timer for 20 minutes.

 Yesterday, I got it to moo like a cow and play "The Stripper."

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