Acer Launches Halo Smart Speaker With Google Assistant and LED Messages
Acer debuted a new smart speaker built with Google Assistant at its annual GPC event this week. The Halo smart speaker looks like it was at least inspired by Google’s Nest smart speakers, with a gray mesh cover and four multi-colored LEDs in a line, but adds extra LEDs across the surface that can display information and messages as well as a light-up base that gives it a different feel from the official Google devices.
As Google Assistant sets the foundation for what the speaker’s software can do, Acer clearly worked to make the hardware stand out from its voice assistant’s official home devices, including 360-degree sound with from speakers built by the high-end audio designer Digital Theater System. Along with voice controls, there are volume and pause buttons on top of the Halo. The smart speaker comes with two monidirectional microphones that are supposed to be very good at detecting human voices from other sounds, to limit the accidental awakening of the voice assistant.
The LED display is definitely the stand-out however. When asked the time or weather, Google Assistant will respond by voice while LEDs light up to become a clock, thermometer, or a weather symbol like the sun or a cloud with lightning to visually cue the user as to the weather. Acer said there are plans to launch a an app in December that will enable users to customize the lights into a message or picture. The lights in the base aren’t random either, they can shift depending on time, and will change colors to try and match the music playing from the speaker as well. The $109 smart speaker is scheduled to come out in early 2021.
Acer is the latest in Google’s list of new and expanding deals to incorporate Google Assistant into third-party smart speakers and other devices. Most recently, the voice assistant became accessible through the latest Samsung smart TVs. Google Assistant didn’t displace Samsung’s own Bixby or the already available Amazon Alexa, but it is likely to be a popular option, especially in homes with Google Assistant-powered smart home devices. Xiaomi also added Google Assistant to its newest smart speaker, albeit one only available in India. Google has also long had a deal with Lenovo, powering the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential, first announced in August as well as the regular Lenovo Smart Clock from last year. Google Assistant will also be incorporated into upcoming Fitbit smartwatches and fitness bands at some point, depending on when Google officially closes the nearly year-long $1.2 billion acquisition of Fitbit.