Essential Home: here is a prototype of the smart speaker / display that never was

A prototype of Essential Home, apparently working, has surfaced in recent days on eBay. The company led by Andy Rubin, former founder of Android, had announced it in 2017, on the wave of the arrival of the first smart displays from Amazon and Google itself; the company imploded shortly thereafter, and then the product was canceled, like everyone else.

The device has a shape similar to that of a disc, if you want, but the upper face is slightly inclined to ensure a better usability of the circular touch display. Compared to the concept renders already circulating at the time, the prototype is slightly less refined and elegant, understandably, but all in all the fidelity is quite high.

On the software side, the Essential Home prototype is equipped with Android 8.1.0 Oreo, security patch dated 2018, which places it temporally after the PH-1 smartphone exits. At the time of the announcement, dating back to around mid-2017, an operating system called Ambient OS had been declared; it was suspected to be a highly customized version of Android, and this prototype seems to confirm that beyond reasonable doubt.

Essential had great ambitions for Home: touch-activated display, voice commands or even just the glance, elegant, refined and minimalist design, and an operating system that would have brought order among the endless jungle of standards, protocols and technologies of the Internet of Things, with compatibility with HomeKit, SmartThings and Nest, among others. Who knows, maybe in the future the project will be back on track: as we know from the ashes of Essential OSOM was born, while some brands and logos were bought by Nothing, the company of the former OnePlus Carl Pei

The seller’s description unfortunately does not give many details on the status of the device as well as those that can be seen from the photos. It is clear that the operating system starts up, and at least a little bit it is also possible to navigate its interface, but we do not know how stable / functional the software as a whole is. It is not even clear whether the adhesive pieces are “load-bearing”, in the sense of fundamental to maintaining structural integrity, or just as a precaution / protection. In any case, the seller’s asking price is $ 900, and the device is located in Las Vegas, USA. For what it’s worth, the seller has very solid feedback: 997 transactions in total, 100% positive.

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