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Forcing Alexa-compatible devices to speak to the Google Assistant might sound like smart assistant blasphemy, but that’s precisely what an enterprising hobbyist set out to accomplish with a Wi-Fi plug, a Raspberry Pi, and a little bit of elbow grease.
Hackaday reports that the intrepid technologist hooked up a Google Assistant-compatible wall plug — TP-Link’s HS-105 — to a Raspberry Pi via the plug’s internal control board. When switched on with a command from the Google Home, the modified HS-105 changes the output of a pin, which the Raspberry Pi detects. The Pi then runs a software implementation of the handshake protocol used by Woods outdoor-rated outlets, triggering it when it receives the signal from the HS-105.
It’s not the first time a hacker’s gotten Google Assistant to play nicely with Alexa hardware. Last year, a developer on Hackster.io released an Alexa skill implementation of the official Google Assistant API that supports local search, IFTTT, and third-party Actions on Google apps. (It’s limited to 500 requests, though, and only responds to commands less than 90 seconds — not including those related to music, news, and podcasts; volume control; alarms and times; and third-party services like Uber and Philips Hue.)
In lieu of a partnership like that between Microsoft and Amazon last year, which saw Alexa come to Microsoft’s Cortana assistant (and vice versa), hacks like these will have to do. Amazon and Google have been trading blows for the better part of years in the smart speaker arena, with Amazon recently retaking the crown from Google in Q3 2018. The Seattle company managed to get 6.3 million Echo smart speakers onto eager customers’ doorsteps by Q3’s end, according to research firm Canalys, with Google riding close on its coattails with 5.9 million Google Home devices shipped.
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The quarter marked something of a turnaround for Amazon, which ceded ground to Google in Q2 2018. Strategy Analytics reported in September that the Google Home Mini was the best-selling voice-enabled speaker in the second quarter of 2018, followed by Amazon’s Echo Dot. And in August, Canalys predicted that if Amazon were to remain on its current trajectory, it would see its share of the smart speaker market slip to 34 percent by 2022.
Overall, worldwide smart speaker shipments grew 137 percent year over year in the third quarter of 2018 to reach 19.7 million units, up from 8.3 million in Q3 2017. Some analysts forecast that the global smart speaker market will be worth close to $30 billion by 2024, and it’s no wonder: NPR and Edison Research estimated in July 2018 that 18 percent of American adults — around 43 million people — owned a smart speaker. That’s a lot of potential customers.
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