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These prototype e-ink displays could be used to display traffic, or weather or calendar items. (GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy)

LAS VEGAS — The Google Assistant now lives in more than 1 billion devices, but the company wants to put it in a whole lot more.

As part of a spate of announcements Tuesday at CES, Google unveiled a new platform called Google Assistant Connect that is designed to make it easier for device makers to build inexpensive devices that perform specific functions controlled by and integrated with the Google Assistant.

Google showed off a couple of prototypes at a press event: a small e-ink pad that was pasted on a refrigerator and showed commute times and a tiny button that could be used to activate a Google Assistant controlled device.

A tiny button that could enable a specific, Google Assistant-controlled action. (GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy)

It’s not just small and inexpensive devices where this new program comes into play. Google officials suggested that this program makes sense for appliances, for example, because you might not want the full capabilities of the digital assistant in an oven, but the ability to perform a couple quick actions with a button or voice command could make a big difference.

The announcement is not super flashy, but it’s an important one for Google as it battles Amazon’s Alexa. Amazon for years has worked to make it easy for third-party developers and manufacturers to build products and apps with Alexa, and this new platform could go a long way toward doing the same for the Google Assistant.

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