Google unveils Project Astra: First impressions of the future of AI with Gemini 1.5 on Android

Google unveils Project Astra: First impressions of the future of AI with Gemini 1.5 on Android

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AI was the hot subject today at Google I/O. In fact, if you watched the event, you may have caught Sundar Pichai joking about how many times the word “AI” was uttered on stage (it was 121 at the time, according to Gemini). Much was shared regarding the future of AI, which is inevitable, but there was one project in particular that was touted as Google’s vision for the future, and we were able to attend a live demo of it.

Although shown off on stage in the pre-recorded video shown below, Project Astra is more impressive in person. For the purposes of the live demo, the Project Astra team at I/O developed a series of games where a camera was pointed down on a table ready to receive input for Gemini 1.5 to process. The alliteration exercise shown in the video below was one of those games: a series of objects were placed on that table, and Gemini was asked to come up with some examples of alliteration using the names and qualities of said objects. The result was something like “The pretty pink flamingo pranced playfully in the pond” once it spotted a plush pink flamingo on the table. 

There were other examples and games shown, but my favorite was the memory game where Gemini was shown some more items on that table, but was given information such as “Gemini, this is my friend Sam, this is my friend Tom, and this is my friend Sandy,” then the items were removed and Gemini was asked questions like “Do you remember who Sam was?” to which Gemini would respond, “Yes, Sam was the plush dog,” and so on. It was quite impressive considering how fast and how natural the conversation between the AI and the human were.

Image by Phone Arena

We were given a chance to ask some questions about it, and one that I asked was whether this would be a mobile-only tool. I was genuinely curious about being able to use it on the web using my laptop’s camera. However, the answer was that for now this is meant to be part of the Gemini app on Android, and from the looks of what we saw in the video, on smart glasses.

Project Astra, which stands for “advanced seeing and talking responsive agent,” is truly a look into the future of AI and how it can become immensely helpful in our day-to-day lives. Being able to see, process, and remember information that it saw before, while being able to hold a proactive and natural conversation with you at the same time, is a huge step above what Gemini can do now. Project Astra is slated to launch as part of the Gemini app on Android later this year, and I can’t wait to see all the ways in which I will be able to use it.

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