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Aug 30, 2017

Google to voice-enable speakers, fridges and vacuums

This Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, file photo shows Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

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Google’s push to place its digital assistant, the search giant’s new product centerpiece, inside every consumer appliance imaginable is edging forward. 

The Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL.O) unit announced on Wednesday that its voice-based chat service is now compatible with a wave of home devices, including speakers and everyday household appliances like refrigerators. After arriving on Google’s smartphone and speaker in 2016, the company hopes its chat-bot can field regular search queries and become a vehicle for online commerce. On that front, Google faces stiff competition from Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN.O), which is also trying to spread its digital assistant Alexa.

LG Electronics Inc., the first Android handset to use Google’s assistant, announced at a conference in Berlin that it plans to bring the service to upcoming washing machines and refrigerators. Google said the assistant would soon be in things like sprinklers and vacuum cleaners. The company also unveiled new speakers with the feature -- the first beyond Google’s own Home device -- made by Panasonic Corp. and Mobvoi, a Chinese startup that counts Google as a strategic investor.

Noticeably absent from the partner list is Samsung Electronics Co., a major manufacturer of Android phones and home appliances that is developing its own voice assistant.