Icelander Plays Leading Role in Google Assistant Skip to content

Icelander Plays Leading Role in Google Assistant

An Icelandic entrepreneur has in the past two years led a team which has developed a new virtual assistance program, called Google Assistant. Gummi Hafsteinsson sold his company Emu two years ago. Google Assistant, partly developed based on a product from Ema, was introduced October 4. It’s one of Google’s largest projects ever, Vísir reports.

“We’ve never seen such unity in the company behind one product. One of the largest teams in the history of Google worked on Google Assistant. It was very exciting to lead this project,” Gummi remarked.

Since 2005, Gummi has worked on the development of software and innovation companies in Silicon Valley. He first worked for Google for five years, with a focus on Google Maps for smartphones, and led its marketing effort. Then he worked for Apple, among other things on the development of the assistance software Siri. After that, Gummi founded his company Emu, which offered virtual assistance for a messaging system. When Google purchased Emu in 2014, Gummi returned to Google.

“You can look at Google Assistant as a conversation with the Google search engine,” Gummi explained. “In fact, this turns into the next generation of Google.”

He gave examples of how the program can be used: “If you want to reserve a table at a restaurant, you can ask Google for a list of restaurants and then you can, for example, ask whether a table is available tomorrow at 7 pm.”

In some ways, Google Assistant resembles Siri, “But with Google, this reaches beyond the phone,” Gummi explained. “You can get Google Assistant, both in your smartphone and in Allo, the new messaging system, and then you can get it in Google Home. In Google Home, Google Assistant is built into a loudspeaker, which you can have in the living room or kitchen, and then you can, for example ask how long you need to boil an egg until its hardboiled.”

Gummi will continue to develop the product. “You always think the product is done when it hits the market, but we will be busy following it through.”

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