Google on Tuesday revealed a synthesizer that uses artificial intelligence to make interesting sounds based on normal sounds from real life. But there's a catch: You won't be able to buy it.
Despite Google's recent hardware push under executive Rick Osterloh, this thing isn't like the Pixel phone or the Home speaker, which bring in revenue for Google. It's a research project. It came about basically because some people at Google wanted to see what can happen if they build a dedicated hardware version of a software synth that they'd previously come up with. The researchers are publishing hardware designs and the underlying software on GitHub, so people can assemble their own versions.
This isn't even a product that could show Google's intent to do more in the music gear business with companies like Korg and Roland. Really, Google is just showing what it can do with the AI software it has developed.
Instead, it shows what's technically possible -- and other companies aren't pushing the envelope in this way. It also shows that AI isn't just a frightening out-of-control technology that steals jobs. It can also help the creative human process.
"In the '60s your thing might have been having a soldering iron, and now we're saying that we can do something with machine learning that's equally hacky," Google senior staff research scientist Doug Eck told CNBC during a demonstration of the project at Google headquarters last week.