To go with its smartphone, Essential is also introducing a smart speaker, which comes with a built-in display.
Essential’s move bypasses the awkward voice-only control of Google Home and Amazon Echo. And that’s exactly how it’s marketing the Essential Home: a more fluid, easy and painless home system.
“We believe in the promise of a smarter home, but wanted to move beyond automation and opaque devices with blinking lights,” states Essential Head of Product Home Devices Mara Segel. “They didn’t fit into the way people felt about their homes, usually places of comfort and warmth. Instead, we have been working on an experience for home that feels natural and freeing.”
Essential is promising to do this with what is its calling Ambient OS. This new operating system will offer the same services other home automation systems already do like alerts, reminders and control over the home. You can ask it to dim the lights, play music, and set timers. But it functions better because you can see it working through the display. While playing music, you can go up to Essential Home and see the music playing. While having a timer going, you can see it counting down.
The display isn’t completely necessary for a smart home system to function, but it is reassuring. There’s something comforting about seeing it work in real time.
The home display will look similar to what you’d find in a smartphone. It will display contextual information like the time, date and weather through the incorporation of colorful animations showing sunshine, rain or snow. To activate it, you can use your voice, touch the display or just stand in front of it.
For its design, it is understated yet functional. Essential Home looks like a slanted hockey puck with a display on top. The one thing that it is missing is a camera. This is most likely due to privacy concerns. Essential is also explicitly stating on its website that Essential’s Home assistant and its AI engine will work locally from the device.
Essential didn’t reveal any details regarding pricing or availability. For now, it’s just a really cool idea that is still just a concept. Once we know more details about the Essential Home, we’ll be sure to pass them along.