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LAS VEGAS — What the heck just happened?

I just got off the “Google Assistant Ride” a 4-minute rollercoaster tour of all things Google Assistant, featuring several half-cute, half-creepy scenarios that are hard to do justice to with words. Google is really pushing the envelope at CES this year with a massive, multi-story “Google Playground” booth to promote its voice-powered software and hardware. The Google Assistant Ride is the centerpiece of the complex.

Getting ready to board. (GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy)

A pre-ride narrator summed up the experience best: “part theme-park attraction, part marketing stunt, let’s be honest with ourselves.” It certainly lived up to the marketing stunt label, and it also showed off a lot of the brand new capabilities of the Google Assistant.

After waiting in line for awhile, we were greeted by a robotic grandmother type, who set the stage for the cute/creepy vibe. We were escorted upstairs and onto the Google-branded rollercoaster; each car had two seats with a safety bar to hold us in and a monitor that displayed all the tasks Google Assistant performs during the ride.

(GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy)

We twisted and turned through various rooms that demonstrate what the digital assistant and Google products can do. Different parts of the ride featured smart home, selfie, lighting, and others. Briefly, the roller coaster went outside, blinding us with January sun and a view of the lovely Las Vegas Convention Center.

In addition to opening its crazy booth to the public on Tuesday, Google also announced a new Smart Clock from Lenovo that represents its answer to Amazon’s Echo Spot. Google also showed off a number of new capabilities for the Google Assistant, headlined by the new Interpreter Mode that can translate conversations in 27 different languages.

(GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy)
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