Hey Google. Two words that the technophiles of this year’s CES got very, very used to seeing and hearing over the few days of the world’s biggest technology show. At any given moment, you could look up from the glare of your smartphone or tip-tapping of your laptop keys and be confronted with the search engine’s voice assistant offering. Even watching the monorail come gliding into the MGM Grand station was an opportunity for a swift hit of Google Assistant advertising, with the few hundred-tonne train shrink wrapped in Hey Google branding.
Taking its role as event headliner in its stride, Google decided to shun the main show floor in favour of a three-story installation in the Las Vegas Convention Centre Car park. Decked out with a slew of gadgets and interactive demonstrations, the stand mimicked more a small house rather than your traditional show booth. One of the main attractions of Google’s wildly impressive and delightfully over the top outdoor stand was the “Google Assistant Journey”, showing how all of the products can seamlessly work together. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a peek inside due to the two-hour queue, but word on the street is that it was incredible, an opinion undoubtedly helped by the 15ft swirly slide at the end of the experience.
After virtually no major involvement at the show in previous years, Google’s CES 2018 presence was nothing short of the Shoreditch Man-bun takeover circa 2015. Wherever you looked, you saw it. More than just an opportunity for Google to show of its feathers, it reflects a shift in the show that was once steered clear of by the tech giants. With Google’s no-holds-barred takeover and Amazon’s competing Alexa, the overarching theme in the rise of virtual assistants was without a doubt the star of this year’s show. Ultimately, Google and Amazon’s head-to-head, fisty-cuffs-at-dawn style competition at CES reinforces the idea that Voice Assistants will continue to dominate, and brands need to get on board with these speak easy offerings if they haven’t already.
Beyond, the glitz and glamour of Vegas and the thousands of tech journalists who shuffle up and down the convention centres, what does all this mean for you and me, the average consumers? The idea of the ‘Connected Home’ is becoming more realistic than ever. Swiftly we are heading towards a time where one can speak to its fridge and order some more semi-skimmed, whilst at the same time discussing tonight’s pre-drinks playlist with the voice assistant built into your audio system. Will this lead to a simpler life for us humanoids, or is this all sounding a little too rise of the robots? Only time will tell. Although, I’m sure the voice in whatever gadget you are reading this on will have something to say about it.