In 1879, a British photographer named Eadweard Muybridge conceived of a device that would project chronophotographic pictures in motion. By January of 1880, he had built the zoopraxiscope, the world’s first film projector. This device used rotating glass disks, from which painted images were projected in rapid succession, to create the illusion of motion; it was, in fact, a primitive form of stop motion.
Given the relative age of the projector, it’s curious that in our renderings of a high-tech future, we often envision projected images as an advanced replacement for screens. Push a button on a watch to create a holographic image; use glasses to create a touch and gesture-responsive projected interface. This is the fodder of future innovation as we so often see it; even in Star Wars, George Lucas’ vision of a far-distant future’s technology makes use of projected images in R2D2’s secret messages from Princess Leah.
Designed by Pascal Grangier and Jiwon Seo, the Google Visual Assistant is a concept for an artificially intelligent projector. The designers share via Behance that the product design stems from frustration with the limitations of conventional smart speakers, which are restricted to voice communication. “Our idea of ‘visible artificial intelligence’ takes a step further into shaping our relationship with products that surround us,” they share. “It uses Google’s artificial intelligence, speech recognition, and space recognition technology. Google Visual Assistant is a new ‘AI projector’ concept that combines sound and visual information to create new possibilities.”
This 2-way product attaches and detaches via a precise magnetic holder. The renderings show a simple, almost retro device in an eye-catching shade of salmon. It is additionally proposed as having primary blue and yellow varieties, a palette in keeping with Google’s iconic logo. The projection piece fits snugly into an upright holder, and at first glance, the device could almost pass for a sleek, minimalist desk lamp with an inobtrusive silhouette.
The device houses a pair of depth sensing cameras, which have been used in AR projection mapping fields. These recognize and gauge spaces in order to project images that are conveniently aligned with the user, allowing the user to enjoy more natural and optimized images without having to adjust the placement of the device.
The Google Visual Assistant functions much like other home assistants in terms of vocal interaction. This device will keep you organized and efficient, keeping track of your daily schedule, providing updates about the weather, and, if you happen to be staying in a posh hotel, even ordering from room service.
The real beauty of this device, however, can be found in its entertainment capabilities. Want to watch an episode of something on Netflix? Give the command, and the Google Visual Assistant will instantly project the program. Trying to learn a musical instrument, but struggling to scroll along with the sheet music on your phone or laptop? This device will project large-scale compositions onto a wall, making it incredibly easy to learn and focus.
Personally, we’re eager to see this baby graduate to the production and retail stages. Until then, we’ll be making lists of all the films we want to watch in our instant at-home cinemas once it hits the market.