"Part ride, part marketing stunt."
Google brought its own version of "It's a Small World" to CES.
The ride, which opened Tuesday at Google's massive booth outside the Las Vegas Convention Center, is part of a big promotional blitz the search giant is making around the Assistant, the company's digital helper software, like Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri.
So yeah, a ride about software. To Google's credit, the company is self-aware about the absurdity. Before riders get into their seats, a voice over the PA system welcomes them to an experience that's "part ride, part marketing stunt, let's be honest with ourselves."
Here's how the whole thing plays out. Riders wait in line where they meet Grandma, who talks to the crowd. Then they are ushered into a room where they hear the story for the ride. You're with Dad as he tries to rush through his errands and buy a cake for Grandma's 91st birthday.
The slow-moving ride takes you through Dad's day: His rambunctious kids run through the house, he gets stalled in traffic, then gets caught in a downpour. Through it all, he gets help from none other than... the Google Assistant. Dad says things like "Hey Google, navigate to bakery," and "Send Jane my ETA."
Then he goes to a French bakery where the baker only speaks French. Which is a good time to use the new Assistant interpreter mode, literally announced today.
As the ride moves along, you can see the Google Assistant jumping into action on a screen on the dash of the ride cart. At the end of the ride, you get your picture taken.
The attraction punctuates Google's elaborate showing at CES. The world's largest tech conference is more important to the search giant than ever as it pushes devices to consumers that compete against the likes of Amazon, Apple and Samsung. Google said its presence at this year's show is triple the size it was last year. Google declined to disclose how much it cost to produce and build the ride.
Elsewhere at the conference, the company plastered the words "Hey Google" -- one of the trigger phrases for the Assistant -- over one of the main entrances of the Las Vegas Convention Center, as well as on the city's monorail. Google also has an army of human "Google Assistants," dressed like a cross between painters and snowboarders in all white, roaming the show floor.
At the show, Google made a slew of announcements, including a new smart clock manufactured by Lenovo and a new platform that aims to make it easier for device makers to add the Assistant to their gadgets.
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