By Alex Teichman and Hendrik Dahlkamp
Bringing Lighthouse to life has been years (actually, over a decade) in the making. And you could say that it all started with a car — a super cool car affectionately known as Stanley. In 2005, Stanley became the first self-driving vehicle to successfully complete a 132-mile course through the Mojave Desert, negotiating narrow tunnels, winding mountain passes and a hundred sharp turns as part of the DARPA Grand Challenge.
Getting a car to drive itself through such a complex course was an amazing feat in itself. But through our collective work in Sebastian Thrun’s lab at Stanford and Google X, we were even more amazed by what you could do with 3D sensors, computer vision and deep learning. After all, these are what made it possible for Stanley to do what many thought was impossible — take the first step to seeing and reacting to the road as we would.
The two of us have long shared a vision for how we could use artificial intelligence to improve people’s lives, in ways that have never been done before. And we wanted to start in a place that’s important to all of us: our homes.
For each of us, what matters most about home is unique, be it our families, our pets or protecting our homes from intruders. We set out to create an interactive assistant that keeps you in the know and helps you stay in control of what matters most to you, from anywhere. And that is why we created Lighthouse.
But to understand what that really means and what makes Lighthouse so different, let’s take a quick look at what has come before us.
The smart home devices of (yesterday)
There are certainly dozens, if not hundreds, of products in the so-called smart home space. For example, there are devices that make it easy to view a live stream or recorded video of your home. But when you think about it, you’re the one providing all the smarts.
Take the idea of motion alerts. They let you know that…something…happened. Was it something harmless, like a shadow moving because of the breeze outside? Or was it something you’d expect like your dog walking around? Was it something reassuring like the kids coming home? Or was it something you really need to worry about? In the end, you’re the one that has to figure out what actually happened. You might even be tempted to turn these alerts off because they don’t provide much value or confidence. And ultimately, you’re just left with a device that lets you check in on your home when you remember to.
So we created a product that goes way beyond what we’ve come to expect for our homes, using the same technology and intelligence that helped Stanley drive 132 miles in the Mojave on its own. It was powerful enough for Stanley, and for the many cars that succeeded him, and we think it’s the perfect fit for your home.
Say hello to Lighthouse
Lighthouse is an interactive assistant for your home. You tell Lighthouse what things you care about and it tells you when those things happen.
Lighthouse uses a 3D sensor, video camera, computer vision and deep learning in sophisticated ways to answer simple, but important, questions about your everyday life at home: What happened? What is happening? What is happening that shouldn’t be happening?
To know what’s happened, all you have to do is ask Lighthouse. It understands natural and specific questions like, “What did the kids do with the babysitter?” or “Did anyone walk the dog today?” Lighthouse simply shows you. Because Lighthouse also recognizes different actions, such as whether someone is running or walking, or if your pet was jumping around, there is so much flexibility that you really don’t have to think about how to ask. You just ask. And to help you follow the action we even place color halos around people and pets to distinguish activity between them.
What’s also really cool is that you can just tell Lighthouse what activities you care about and it’ll notify you automatically when they happen. If you’re a parent, for instance, you can have Lighthouse tell you when the kids come home from school, or if the kids don’t arrive when you expect them to.
In addition to knowing about the important everyday moments that each of us care about, we naturally want peace of mind and a sense of control when it comes to keeping our homes, our families and our pets safe. Because Lighthouse understands actual 3D movement, it doesn’t get tricked by shadows or changing light conditions. It also knows the difference between people and pets, and who is welcome and who is unexpected, so you’ll only receive a security alert if Lighthouse detects movement from an unrecognized person in your house.
Lighthouse recognizes gestures too, including the most natural one of all: a wave to say hello. When you’re away from home, your family members can wave to Lighthouse and you get a hello that goes right to your phone. With built-in two-way talk, you can say hello right back, connecting you to what matters most wherever you happen to be.
The Future of Home
We are proud to have partnered with Andy Rubin’s Playground Studio in bringing Lighthouse to life. Through Andy’s vision and leadership, Android became the world’s most popular operating system. And looking to the future, Andy shares our belief that AI has the potential to be the world’s next great platform. We see Lighthouse as a big first step in shaping that future — and, the future of home.
Lighthouse Available for Pre-Order Today
When you pre-order Lighthouse starting at $299, you’ll be the first to receive it when it ships in September. And, you’ll get special insider content throughout the summer and an opportunity to influence our product roadmap. We look forward to having those conversations with you!
We want to say a heartfelt thanks to the entire Lighthouse team, our families, friends and everyone who sacrificed and invested so much of themselves to make this day possible. We are also grateful for the guidance and support from all of our early testers, investors, advisors and partners, including board members Sebastian Thrun and Lior Susan, as well as Andy Rubin, Bruce Leak and Chris Farmer. We couldn’t have done this without all of you and we are excited about what lies ahead.
– Alex and Hendrik