We took a look at Google’s “booth” at CES — it was actually closer to a fortress than a booth, though that’s neither here nor there. The rain may have kept them on the bench on Tuesday but they came back in full force with white jumpsuits, twenty-foot gumball machines, and enough nitro cold brew to kill a family of hummingbirds.
There was a lot of buzz around Google’s new line of “smart displays.” I talked to a representative who assured me they were not repurposed tablets and were in fact a new type interactive hardware in that doesn’t require the management of any apps, and primarily used through voice command.
We saw four different types of smart displays coming out by some big name brands including JBL, Lenovo, Sony, and LG. They also showed upwards of 25 smart speakers by third-party companies to announce to the world (and Amazon) that they came to play. The implication being that you can use Google Assistant to power your smart home.
In the center of all this gadgetry was a gorgeous 3D display that looked like a Laika Production of “Candy Land.”
The best part of Google’s exhibit was the ‘Donut Shop,’ upon which you were greeted with a menu of commands to say to the Google Home Mini, or “Donut” as it’s known the streets. You’d then ring the bell, ask the Mini a random question, and either win a Mini or an actual donut.
If there was anything to gripe about, besides being the only one in my party who did not win a Mini, it would be that the exhibit was not at all interactive. All the products were treated as art pieces to be admired rather than the technological gadgets we hoped to interact with, it felt odd seeing as how our primary relationship with these products is through touch.