Google doesn't usually take up a lot of time at CES to show off something new, but instead to highlight what it's capable of doing with all of its partners. We did get some fun news about digital sticky notes, but that clearly isn't the focus. As a result, the Google booth is usually a huge way to show off a lot of different options but not a ton of necessarily new products. This gives Google the space to have some fun, which is has been doing to spectacular effect over the last couple of years. You may remember the mini rollercoaster Google built inside its booth last year, for example.
This year, there are no roller coasters. Instead, there's a deeply interactive tour and a great big slide. Here's a quick look at what you're missing if you can't make it to Las Vegas this week.
Everything starts off with this doorway. You are a group of six, walked through the door at the same time and told you'll need to work together to make it through this experience.
As you walk into this Mud Room, your Google Assistant Guide gives you a token with a number on it. Your job in this "ride" is to speak the commands you see projected on the walls when your number shows up.
There's a disembodied voice from overhead explaining it will be your guide through a day in the life of someone who uses Google Assistant for everything and how it saved them from disaster.
The next room is, predictably, full of Google hardware.
The disembodied voice describes everyone in the room as weary travelers with arms full of tote bags, not-so-subtly teasing us for being here at CES while also calling itself out for the product placement all over.
You are standing in the life of a couple who desperately want to try a new hip food, the Bacon and Brussels Burrata di Bufala Risotto Burrito.
Go ahead, say that out loud. You'll immediately understand why Google chose this silly thing to say over and over again during this experience.
The next room has a fake car for everyone to get in, with a giant screen to show you Google Maps and a way to accept calls from your phone and use your voice for everything.
You're driving along when suddenly, the place which sells this amazing dish you just had to try is no longer available. You now have to go get the ingredients to make this yourself! A quick pivot on Google Maps to the latest market sets you on your way.
You get to the grocery store, but then the disembodied voice asks if any of you in your group know how to cook. I raised my hand, and that's when I realized that disembodied voice wasn't a recording. It was a person, who was now describing me and asking if I had ever made this specific dish before. I, of course, have not, and so the disembodied voice expressed concern that I was going to be able to make all of this happen in time. But with the help of Google Assistant to look up the recipe and show us what ingredients we needed, this might just work.
Another plot twist, some of the food is measured in grams when the recipe calls for a different unit of measurement. Fortunately, the Assistant will tell you what the conversion rate is so you can get the right amount. Yay product placement!
Now it's time to rush home and actually get this meal made. With Google Assistant, you can tell your oven to heat up before you get home so it's ready when you are, as well as send the recipe to your smart display for spoken step-by-step directions. Need a specific amount of water? Tell your smart faucet to dispense the exact amount and be good to go.
This part of the demo got a little silly, as Google Assistant is also used to turn on the Instant Pot and enable a food processor. At the moment, there is only one Instant Pot with support for Google Assistant, but it's a cool demo.
The meal is finished just in time for your partner to show up in the smart doorbell to let you know they're home. You did it! It's time to celebrate with a trip down that giant slide on the back of this building. And when you do, you're given a ten-second video clip which you can then share with the world.
Honestly, I love that Google takes the opportunity to be silly at events like this. These experiences stick with you, and giving people a reason to interact instead of just sit still is a great way to ensure they remember some of these Assistant commands exist.
Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter
So did you get anything free? Last year after the roller coaster we got code to redeem free Google Home Hub (Nest Hub). What about this year????
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