Essential smart speaker prototype appears on eBay

A prototype of a smart speaker from the now defunct company Essential, owned by Android founder Andy Rubin, has appeared on eBay. The so-called Essential Home had to work as much as possible via the local network.

The eBay seller, who does not appear to be cheating on the platform based on his feedback received, does not provide any further information. He calls It’s a prototype and the pictures show some things: the Essential logo and that it runs on Android 8. It is the first time that real photos of the device are on display; until now we only had concept renders. He wants $900 for the device, plus shipping from the US.

Slightly striking is that when the speaker was unveiled it was intended to run on ‘Ambient OS’, a new operating system. That is not the case with this prototype. Perhaps Android was used to test the hardware functions of the device, while Ambient OS was still under construction.

Ambient OS would perform as many smart speaker functions offline as possible. Where possible, Ambient OS would control the operation of the various devices via the local network, instead of using APIs ‘in the cloud’. User data would also be stored locally as much as possible. The voice assistant, which had made use of artificial intelligence, would also run locally on the device itself.

The Android founder’s company was short-lived. The company, founded in 2015, closed its doors again in 2020. In that time, it has launched a product: the Essential Phone, also known as the PH-1. It was just about the first mainstream smartphone to use a notch in the screen for the front camera, leaving more room for the display. Essential also had plans for a long, thin smartphone called the Gem.