Google built a Disney-like ride at CES to show off its home assistant

Google’s creepy-cute grandmotherly robot at CES 2019.
Google’s creepy-cute grandmotherly robot at CES 2019.
Image: Quartz/Ashley Rodriguez
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“Why, don’t you look fresh,” a grandmotherly robot in a rocking chair told me, admiring my just-washed hair and reminding me to hydrate throughout the day. The adorable and slightly unsettling robot was a precursor to the Google Ride, an attraction the tech company set up at its Google Assistant Playground at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on Tuesday (Jan. 8).

Seated two to a car on the Disney-like amusement ride, reminiscent of the “It’s A Small World” attraction for its detailed displays and haunting music, we experienced a day in the life with Google Assistant. We followed a man as he managed the household (his wife was traveling on business), and we got a cake for grandma’s birthday, hence the grandmother we met at the start of the experience.

Google, which blanketed the Las Vegas Monorail and other billboards with ads for its Google Assistant during CES, went all out with the four-minute-long attraction, which even burst outside into the Las Vegas sunshine for a few moments, and snapped an obligatory photo that riders could pick up afterward, just like at a theme park.

Google unveiled new features of the Google Assistant at a press event on Tuesday at CES as well. The company said the Google Assistant was learning to have more natural conversations by remembering the context from previous questions and actions, and allowing people to personalize the assistant by setting their favorite teams, among other features. It also unveiled Interpreter Mode, which will roll out on Google Home devices and Smart Displays in the coming weeks, and provides spoken and written translations for conversations in real time.