Why Nvidia's Shield TV is the next big leap for IoT

Nvidia is working on some really smart devices that will bring the IoT experience that I dream of

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In my last article, I wrote about how IoT devices are silently taking over my smartphone. However, I still have to use all three major virtual assistant platforms -- include Amazon Echo, Apple Siri, and Google Assistant -- because none offers a complete solution that I can rely on.

Google Assistant is my favorite among the three because Google’s artificial intelligence is unmatched by both Siri and Alexa, but things are about to get more exciting. Nvidia is working on some really exciting products that will bring me closer to the smartphone-free life that I envision.

Nvidia is putting its Shield TV streaming box at the heart of its home invasion plan. If you don’t own a Shield yet, I highly recommend getting one. Essentially, Nvidia Shield offers these capabilities:

  • A streaming box that can stream online content including Netflix, HBO, and more
  • A gaming platform that allows you to play Android games, select PC games through GeForce Streaming service, and streamed PC games running on your local PC
  • A virtual assistant device competing with Amazon Echo and Google Home

Later this year, Nvidia will be pushing software updates to the Shield TV that will bring Google Assistant to these devices. That also makes Shield the first virtual assistant other than Google Home to get Assistant. And it’s going to be better than Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Apple TV.

The Nvidia Shield game controller and remote have built in microphones, which can be used to interact with Google Assistant baked into the Shield TV. The game controller will have an always listening microphone. But to ensure your privacy, Nvidia won’t activate it automatically with the software update; users will have to enable it to always listen for the hotword, which means you won’t have to hold the microphone button.

On the Shield TV remote, you will need to hold the mic button, as its small battery doesn’t have enough juice for a 24x7 microphone.

That takes care of your living room, where the Shield TV sits. What about the kitchen and other rooms? You can’t carry remotes everywhere.

Later this year, Nvidia will be launching a small device called Nvidia Spot that will plug directly into the power outlet (no messy cables like Echo Dot) and will be networked to the Shield TV. You can plug these conspicuous tiny devices into power outlets in each room and create a neutral network for your Shield TV, allowing it to be controlled from anywhere in your house.

That will allow me to tell Nvidia Spot to play the music I need in my office and also change tracks playing in the living room. If the kids are having a party in their room, I can play some kids videos on the TV in the room that’s connected to a Chromecast. I don’t have to be near any device because it’s everywhere in my house.

Nvidia is also coming out with support for Samsung’s SmartThings, so instead of buying a $100 SmartThings Hub, you can just get a $30 USB stick that you can plug into Nvidia Shield and control your SmartThings with it. With that you can control all of your SmartThing devices.

What about security?

IoT is low hanging fruit, and many hardware vendors are exploiting the term to sell insecure IoT, which they call smart devices. I despise them and advise against buying such devices until you really need internet capabilities. That said, even big companies like Samsung are selling extremely insecure devices like Smart TVs and fridges.

So, should I trust Nvidia? Yes, I would.

Unlike many IoT vendors whose primary source of revenue is sales from hardware, Nvidia does have a revenue model around services. When it comes to security, I put Nvidia in the same category as Amazon Echo and Google’s own devices. So I won’t be worried about security, though I will keep a close eye on applications that I install on my Shield, as many applications try to sneak in permissions that they don’t need, such as access to the address book or camera, or the ability to send messages. Beyond that, I believe Shield is a very secure platform.

One more thing

Nvidia will go beyond the stock Google Assistant experience and bring it to games. Yes, in-game Google Assistant. Sharing your game with others or broadcasting it will be as easy as telling Google Assistant to do it.

My wish list includes dictating actions within a game. How about saying shoot, hide, or jump to my character, and she does it instead of me having to hit buttons on my controller? Imagine Dirty Rally where you can the change camera angle or steer the car with voice commands. I would love to give 3 Stamina Wheels in Zelda to get the ability to say "fly" instead of holding the X button or change arrows or weapons.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.