Sunday, July 21, 2019

“Google Exec On The Future Of Nest: "No One Asked For The Smart Home" - Forbes” plus 1 more

“Google Exec On The Future Of Nest: "No One Asked For The Smart Home" - Forbes” plus 1 more


Google Exec On The Future Of Nest: "No One Asked For The Smart Home" - Forbes

Posted: 20 Jul 2019 10:00 AM PDT

Google Nest is what we are learning to call the new combination of Nest products, such as a learning thermostat, high-resolution cameras and neat smoke alarm and Google smart home products like  its smart home screens. It is a growing phenomenon. The latest product, the Google Nest Max, is coming soon. It has a large, widescreen 10-inch display and a camera which, privacy lovers please note, can be incontrovertibly switched off with a shutter that physically covers the lens.

Google Nest Max, coming soon.

Google

I talked to the guy in charge of these products recently in London. He is Rishi Chandra, Vice President of Product and General Manager at Google Nest. He looks after Google Home, Chromecast, Google Wifi, Nest Thermostat, Nest Cam, Nest Hello and more. Products that populate the smart home, then?

Actually, that's not the word he likes. As he tells me, "We're intentionally deviating from the word smart home, because we actually think it's the wrong word, we actually do think it's a very tech-oriented way of thinking about the home. No one asked for smartness, for the smart home. That's not an attribute necessarily people care about. What they want is help. Like, we want to go from what a technology does to where it actually provides benefit. And so our mantra for the next five to 10 years is going to be the notion of how we can help deliver the helpful home."

Okay, then, the helpful home it is.

Chandra thinks this is an exciting moment for technology: "I think we're in a tremendous time right now, a transition from mobile computer to ambient computing. And those transitions don't happen very often, they actually happen once a decade. Twenty years ago, you had the transition from PC computing, to web computing. And that was kind of the foundation of Google and many amazing start-ups. And about 10 years ago, when you had the transition from web computing to mobile computing, with the resurgence of Apple and all these great, amazing mobile applications that have been out there the last decade. My belief is that this latest transition is to ambient computing, this notion of having an always accessible computer right at your fingertips, that understands you, that can do things on your behalf to help you in different ways."

Google exec Rishi Chandra.

Google

Ambient computing, he explains, is where the computing power isn't limited to one device. "The history of the computer in the last 20 years has been, one integrated device that just keeps getting better. The challenge you have in an ambient computing model is there is no one device which I put in my home, that just makes my home smart. Instead, you have to take this imaginary computing device, and split it apart. You need different sensors and inputs and outputs across all the different rooms inside your house. And to the consumer, it needs to feel like one.

So, where does he see the helpful home is heading?

"Of course, we continue to introduce technologies, which allow us to seamlessly transition between personal computing and communal computing. So things like voice match or face match will be key technologies, that lead us to a system that can recognize who I am, and adjust to what my needs versus the needs of my family or other people in the house. It's got to be both communal and personal, even in shared spaces."

The idea is that if you're playing music with adult lyrics and your young kids walk in, the helpful home will know and react accordingly. And what about that other feature that's totemic right now, privacy?

"An area we think has to evolve is the privacy model to go along with it. Right? Because the truth is that communal experience is key from a privacy standpoint as well. One of the things that we've been spending a lot of time on is how do we we rethink the privacy model. Google I/O saw announcements of our first set of privacy commitments, of what we believe Google Nest is going to stand for from a privacy standpoint. The goal was to really simplify how we talk about these things. So we want to provide a lot of clear transparency about it."

Google Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max.

Google

Of course, having ambient computing may mean different levels of privacy are acceptable to different family members, visitors, friends.

In the meantime, does the advancement of gadgets and technology mean that in the future we'll see, for instance, a microphone on the Nest Thermostat?

"No, actually, I actually think this level of integration allows us to do exactly not that. Putting a microphone on a thermostat, I actually don't think makes any sense. What makes more sense is putting a Nest Hub or a Google Home Mini in a different room, where you interact with the products and that's where the devices should connect together. If you think about it, the portfolio of products we have is tremendous. We have seven different categories in 20 or so products. I think the next evolution of the home is going to be how these devices interface together logically for the consumer. Right now, the industry is like, oh, let's put a microphone in every product, like a washing machine, say. Why? It doesn't really make sense. So, in my mind, I want us to step back. The lens I want to take is, what does the home need? If I were to design the ultimate home from scratch? How would you design it? It would not be putting 60 microphones in people's houses. And so, rather than us saying, I better put a display on my thermostat, let's see what people are asking for, what do they care about when it comes to thermostats, like, how do I save energy? That's the user goal."

Nest Cam IQ, trying to look cute on a pile of books

Nest

How about the way different brands and systems talk to each other? After all, there's still no way for Siri to control Nest gadgets, for instance.

"We make it very complicated for device manufacturers to interface with the different systems out there. I am optimistic that we can fix this. It is very similar to the early days of the web. You had to build your website to work with Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, and other different web browsers out there. What ended up happening was that it actually the industry said, 'Wait a second, this is not a very smart model, let's standardize the pieces that actually simplify integration with all the different websites out there world today. I'm hopeful we'll come to the same conclusion here. The truth is like we need to make it so easy that any assistant can actually interface with any device. And we want to make it easy for Philips Hue or TP Link, smart plugs, whatever."

It's an inspiring thought, and certainly, one that could make the home much smarter – and more helpful.

__________

Follow me on Instagram, davidphelantech and Twitter, @davidphelan2009

More on Forbes

Apple Card To Launch In The U.S. Soon. But When, And Where's Next?

Apple Unveils 20 Of 59 New Emoji For World Emoji Day, Including One You're Going To Use Non-Stop

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 May Sport Apple Watch 4's Coolest Features

Forget AirPods 2: Sony's Latest In-Ears Boast Cool Extra Features

Bose Headphones 700: Gorgeous Noise-Cancelers Make A Dazzling First Impression

What Facebook and Google taught this couple about building a Chinese app that reaches 25 million users - CNBC

Posted: 21 Jul 2019 06:20 PM PDT

In business, timing can be everything. And for husband and wife founders, Tony Hsieh and Cathy Hsu, it certainly was.

Only it wasn't fluke. It was the result of a carefully crafted strategy — one they learned from tech giants Facebook and Google.

Hsu and Hsieh are the brains behind Jiliguala — which translates to "babble" in Chinese — a children's English language app which boasts more than 25 million registered users.

The couple started the business in Shanghai in 2014 in response to what they saw as a gap in the Chinese market for affordable preschool English lessons. But it was their marketing strategy that helped the business take off and won them one million users within the first month.

Jiliguala's co-founders Cathy Hsu and Tony Hsieh.

Jiliguala

Breaking a million

"The first one million users that we got actually came just after the launch of the articles feature on WeChat, " Hsu told CNBC Make It, referring to China's answer to the Facebook-owned WhatsApp messenger app.

"Really early on, we noticed a lot of parents were sharing parenting tips featured in these articles. So my team and I went out and contacted every single parenting publication we could find and asked them to write about Jiliguala."

It drove so much traffic that our server actually crashed multiple times.

Cathy Hsu

co-founder, Jiliguala

"It did wonders for us," Hsu said. "It drove so much traffic that our server actually crashed multiple times."

That tactic of spotting and capitalizing on social trends is something Hsu and Hsieh picked up in their early days working at software start-up Slide, a U.S. app developer initially used by Facebook and later acquired by Google. The tech giants are renowned for being at the forefront of the latest tech crazes and dedicating entire teams to following emerging trends.

"I think it helped that we had a bit of a background in the Facebook days of looking at what viral growth means early, early on," said Hsu.

"We actually have two or three guys now who spend most (of) their time looking at different trends and the new wave of short video that's kind of blown up all over China and how we can leverage that to grow traffic," Hsu continued, referring to TikTok, a Chinese short video-sharing app that's similar to Snap.

Spotting an opportunity

A strong marketing strategy is nothing without a killer idea, however. And, like many great ideas, Jiliguala was born out of a problem.

The couple, originally from San Francisco, had been living and working in Shanghai for about four years when, following the birth of their first child, they saw the vast appetite for early-years English education in China.

Three-quarters (76%) of Chinese parents start getting their children to learn English before their fifth birthday, according to a joint report by online news portal jiemian.com and Jiliguala. But the costs can be great: Typical Chinese parents spend around 20% of their annual income on their child's education. International schools, meanwhile, can cost closer to $30,000 per year for full tuition.

Language was one of the areas that parents had a real burning desire to look for something.

Cathy Hsu

co-founder, Jiliguala

"We wanted to do something that could disrupt that," said Hsu, who, along with her husband, had been looking for an opportunity to start their own business.

"When we looked at the different sectors in early childhood education, language was one of the areas that parents had a real burning desire to look for something that could help them," she continued.

Child tests out Jiliguala's English language app

Jiliguala

That issue was particularly prevalent among older parents and those from remote communities, where knowledge of English tends to be poorer, Hsu noted.

The market was only set to grow in 2016, with the eradication of China's decades-long "one-child policy," which limited many families to just one child.

So, Hsu and Hsieh decided to use their tech backgrounds — and $100,000 of their own cash — to come up with a solution.

Carving a new path

Both Hsu and Hsieh spent around a year studying the curriculum at U.S. and Chinese schools, before coming up with an app to teach English via interactive videos, games and songs.

The app aims to help children in the "fundamental" early years — between the ages of 0 and 8 — before they face other commitments.

"Chinese kids have a lot of things on their plate when they get to elementary (school)," said Hsu, listing piano lessons and other extra-curricular activities, "so we felt it was important to start early and build the foundations."

How does Jiliguala work?

- Each 15-minute lesson begins with a short video designed to replicate a real-life experience, such as going to the shops.

- The child is then presented a series of key words and sentences and asked to respond to interactive tasks using the app.

- Every lesson culminates in a song or short story to help reiterate the core ideas. Parents also receive a progress report at the end of the lesson.

Jiliguala, which in the past four years has raised $20 million from the likes of publishing house Penguin Random House and U.S. venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, is available for a one-off annual fee of around $76, with additional upgrade options available.

The app started off free, but switched to a paid model in 2017 after Jiliguala started to produce its content with in-house actors, and drawing on the expertise of its now 200-strong team of education experts, child psychologists and video producers. Previously, the company relied on existing language content.

Hsu said that decision was a conscious move to make Jiliguala a memorable experience for children.

"When I think about all the IPs I've grown up with," said Hsu, listing Disney among other so-called intellectual properties, "I want Jiliguala to offer that as well, so that when they look back and think about learning English, they remember having this family of Jiliguala characters."

Jiliguala's content studio in Shanghai.

Jiliguala

Finding room to grow

Building on from its aggressive Facebook-inspired growth strategy, Jiliguala is now growing organically at a current rate of 1.2 million new users per month.

Today, the company claims to have reached "one in six children" across 2,300 cities, towns and villages in China. But with the Chinese market continuing to expand, Hsu sees no reason to slow down.

"China is a very, very competitive space," said Hsu. "You have competitors and if you're doing something well, they're right behind you."

"They will go after you if they feel like you're onto something. So we'll continue to watch the market and look for opportunities to grow."

Don't miss: 14-year-old 'Shark Tank' success shares her best piece of advice for entrepreneurs

Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!

Jiliguala's content studio in Shanghai.

Jiliguala

“Google Exec On The Future Of Nest: "No One Asked For The Smart Home" - Forbes” plus 1 more


Google Exec On The Future Of Nest: "No One Asked For The Smart Home" - Forbes

Posted: 20 Jul 2019 10:00 AM PDT

Google Nest is what we are learning to call the new combination of Nest products, such as a learning thermostat, high-resolution cameras and neat smoke alarm and Google smart home products like  its smart home screens. It is a growing phenomenon. The latest product, the Google Nest Max, is coming soon. It has a large, widescreen 10-inch display and a camera which, privacy lovers please note, can be incontrovertibly switched off with a shutter that physically covers the lens.

Google Nest Max, coming soon.

Google

I talked to the guy in charge of these products recently in London. He is Rishi Chandra, Vice President of Product and General Manager at Google Nest. He looks after Google Home, Chromecast, Google Wifi, Nest Thermostat, Nest Cam, Nest Hello and more. Products that populate the smart home, then?

Actually, that's not the word he likes. As he tells me, "We're intentionally deviating from the word smart home, because we actually think it's the wrong word, we actually do think it's a very tech-oriented way of thinking about the home. No one asked for smartness, for the smart home. That's not an attribute necessarily people care about. What they want is help. Like, we want to go from what a technology does to where it actually provides benefit. And so our mantra for the next five to 10 years is going to be the notion of how we can help deliver the helpful home."

Okay, then, the helpful home it is.

Chandra thinks this is an exciting moment for technology: "I think we're in a tremendous time right now, a transition from mobile computer to ambient computing. And those transitions don't happen very often, they actually happen once a decade. Twenty years ago, you had the transition from PC computing, to web computing. And that was kind of the foundation of Google and many amazing start-ups. And about 10 years ago, when you had the transition from web computing to mobile computing, with the resurgence of Apple and all these great, amazing mobile applications that have been out there the last decade. My belief is that this latest transition is to ambient computing, this notion of having an always accessible computer right at your fingertips, that understands you, that can do things on your behalf to help you in different ways."

Google exec Rishi Chandra.

Google

Ambient computing, he explains, is where the computing power isn't limited to one device. "The history of the computer in the last 20 years has been, one integrated device that just keeps getting better. The challenge you have in an ambient computing model is there is no one device which I put in my home, that just makes my home smart. Instead, you have to take this imaginary computing device, and split it apart. You need different sensors and inputs and outputs across all the different rooms inside your house. And to the consumer, it needs to feel like one.

So, where does he see the helpful home is heading?

"Of course, we continue to introduce technologies, which allow us to seamlessly transition between personal computing and communal computing. So things like voice match or face match will be key technologies, that lead us to a system that can recognize who I am, and adjust to what my needs versus the needs of my family or other people in the house. It's got to be both communal and personal, even in shared spaces."

The idea is that if you're playing music with adult lyrics and your young kids walk in, the helpful home will know and react accordingly. And what about that other feature that's totemic right now, privacy?

"An area we think has to evolve is the privacy model to go along with it. Right? Because the truth is that communal experience is key from a privacy standpoint as well. One of the things that we've been spending a lot of time on is how do we we rethink the privacy model. Google I/O saw announcements of our first set of privacy commitments, of what we believe Google Nest is going to stand for from a privacy standpoint. The goal was to really simplify how we talk about these things. So we want to provide a lot of clear transparency about it."

Google Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max.

Google

Of course, having ambient computing may mean different levels of privacy are acceptable to different family members, visitors, friends.

In the meantime, does the advancement of gadgets and technology mean that in the future we'll see, for instance, a microphone on the Nest Thermostat?

"No, actually, I actually think this level of integration allows us to do exactly not that. Putting a microphone on a thermostat, I actually don't think makes any sense. What makes more sense is putting a Nest Hub or a Google Home Mini in a different room, where you interact with the products and that's where the devices should connect together. If you think about it, the portfolio of products we have is tremendous. We have seven different categories in 20 or so products. I think the next evolution of the home is going to be how these devices interface together logically for the consumer. Right now, the industry is like, oh, let's put a microphone in every product, like a washing machine, say. Why? It doesn't really make sense. So, in my mind, I want us to step back. The lens I want to take is, what does the home need? If I were to design the ultimate home from scratch? How would you design it? It would not be putting 60 microphones in people's houses. And so, rather than us saying, I better put a display on my thermostat, let's see what people are asking for, what do they care about when it comes to thermostats, like, how do I save energy? That's the user goal."

Nest Cam IQ, trying to look cute on a pile of books

Nest

How about the way different brands and systems talk to each other? After all, there's still no way for Siri to control Nest gadgets, for instance.

"We make it very complicated for device manufacturers to interface with the different systems out there. I am optimistic that we can fix this. It is very similar to the early days of the web. You had to build your website to work with Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, and other different web browsers out there. What ended up happening was that it actually the industry said, 'Wait a second, this is not a very smart model, let's standardize the pieces that actually simplify integration with all the different websites out there world today. I'm hopeful we'll come to the same conclusion here. The truth is like we need to make it so easy that any assistant can actually interface with any device. And we want to make it easy for Philips Hue or TP Link, smart plugs, whatever."

It's an inspiring thought, and certainly, one that could make the home much smarter – and more helpful.

__________

Follow me on Instagram, davidphelantech and Twitter, @davidphelan2009

More on Forbes

Apple Card To Launch In The U.S. Soon. But When, And Where's Next?

Apple Unveils 20 Of 59 New Emoji For World Emoji Day, Including One You're Going To Use Non-Stop

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 May Sport Apple Watch 4's Coolest Features

Forget AirPods 2: Sony's Latest In-Ears Boast Cool Extra Features

Bose Headphones 700: Gorgeous Noise-Cancelers Make A Dazzling First Impression

What Facebook and Google taught this couple about building a Chinese app that reaches 25 million users - CNBC

Posted: 21 Jul 2019 06:20 PM PDT

In business, timing can be everything. And for husband and wife founders, Tony Hsieh and Cathy Hsu, it certainly was.

Only it wasn't fluke. It was the result of a carefully crafted strategy — one they learned from tech giants Facebook and Google.

Hsu and Hsieh are the brains behind Jiliguala — which translates to "babble" in Chinese — a children's English language app which boasts more than 25 million registered users.

The couple started the business in Shanghai in 2014 in response to what they saw as a gap in the Chinese market for affordable preschool English lessons. But it was their marketing strategy that helped the business take off and won them one million users within the first month.

Jiliguala's co-founders Cathy Hsu and Tony Hsieh.

Jiliguala

Breaking a million

"The first one million users that we got actually came just after the launch of the articles feature on WeChat, " Hsu told CNBC Make It, referring to China's answer to the Facebook-owned WhatsApp messenger app.

"Really early on, we noticed a lot of parents were sharing parenting tips featured in these articles. So my team and I went out and contacted every single parenting publication we could find and asked them to write about Jiliguala."

It drove so much traffic that our server actually crashed multiple times.

Cathy Hsu

co-founder, Jiliguala

"It did wonders for us," Hsu said. "It drove so much traffic that our server actually crashed multiple times."

That tactic of spotting and capitalizing on social trends is something Hsu and Hsieh picked up in their early days working at software start-up Slide, a U.S. app developer initially used by Facebook and later acquired by Google. The tech giants are renowned for being at the forefront of the latest tech crazes and dedicating entire teams to following emerging trends.

"I think it helped that we had a bit of a background in the Facebook days of looking at what viral growth means early, early on," said Hsu.

"We actually have two or three guys now who spend most (of) their time looking at different trends and the new wave of short video that's kind of blown up all over China and how we can leverage that to grow traffic," Hsu continued, referring to TikTok, a Chinese short video-sharing app that's similar to Snap.

Spotting an opportunity

A strong marketing strategy is nothing without a killer idea, however. And, like many great ideas, Jiliguala was born out of a problem.

The couple, originally from San Francisco, had been living and working in Shanghai for about four years when, following the birth of their first child, they saw the vast appetite for early-years English education in China.

Three-quarters (76%) of Chinese parents start getting their children to learn English before their fifth birthday, according to a joint report by online news portal jiemian.com and Jiliguala. But the costs can be great: Typical Chinese parents spend around 20% of their annual income on their child's education. International schools, meanwhile, can cost closer to $30,000 per year for full tuition.

Language was one of the areas that parents had a real burning desire to look for something.

Cathy Hsu

co-founder, Jiliguala

"We wanted to do something that could disrupt that," said Hsu, who, along with her husband, had been looking for an opportunity to start their own business.

"When we looked at the different sectors in early childhood education, language was one of the areas that parents had a real burning desire to look for something that could help them," she continued.

Child tests out Jiliguala's English language app

Jiliguala

That issue was particularly prevalent among older parents and those from remote communities, where knowledge of English tends to be poorer, Hsu noted.

The market was only set to grow in 2016, with the eradication of China's decades-long "one-child policy," which limited many families to just one child.

So, Hsu and Hsieh decided to use their tech backgrounds — and $100,000 of their own cash — to come up with a solution.

Carving a new path

Both Hsu and Hsieh spent around a year studying the curriculum at U.S. and Chinese schools, before coming up with an app to teach English via interactive videos, games and songs.

The app aims to help children in the "fundamental" early years — between the ages of 0 and 8 — before they face other commitments.

"Chinese kids have a lot of things on their plate when they get to elementary (school)," said Hsu, listing piano lessons and other extra-curricular activities, "so we felt it was important to start early and build the foundations."

How does Jiliguala work?

- Each 15-minute lesson begins with a short video designed to replicate a real-life experience, such as going to the shops.

- The child is then presented a series of key words and sentences and asked to respond to interactive tasks using the app.

- Every lesson culminates in a song or short story to help reiterate the core ideas. Parents also receive a progress report at the end of the lesson.

Jiliguala, which in the past four years has raised $20 million from the likes of publishing house Penguin Random House and U.S. venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, is available for a one-off annual fee of around $76, with additional upgrade options available.

The app started off free, but switched to a paid model in 2017 after Jiliguala started to produce its content with in-house actors, and drawing on the expertise of its now 200-strong team of education experts, child psychologists and video producers. Previously, the company relied on existing language content.

Hsu said that decision was a conscious move to make Jiliguala a memorable experience for children.

"When I think about all the IPs I've grown up with," said Hsu, listing Disney among other so-called intellectual properties, "I want Jiliguala to offer that as well, so that when they look back and think about learning English, they remember having this family of Jiliguala characters."

Jiliguala's content studio in Shanghai.

Jiliguala

Finding room to grow

Building on from its aggressive Facebook-inspired growth strategy, Jiliguala is now growing organically at a current rate of 1.2 million new users per month.

Today, the company claims to have reached "one in six children" across 2,300 cities, towns and villages in China. But with the Chinese market continuing to expand, Hsu sees no reason to slow down.

"China is a very, very competitive space," said Hsu. "You have competitors and if you're doing something well, they're right behind you."

"They will go after you if they feel like you're onto something. So we'll continue to watch the market and look for opportunities to grow."

Don't miss: 14-year-old 'Shark Tank' success shares her best piece of advice for entrepreneurs

Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!

Jiliguala's content studio in Shanghai.

Jiliguala

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