A camera affixed to the railing of The Ride snapped participant photos.
Google once again made its presence known at CES, Jan. 8-11, with a two-story Google Playground installation outside the Las Vegas Convention Center in Central Plaza that offered a big and bold LED façade, spacious plaza and a closed-off upper level that housed what was the talk of the show: The Ride.
In fact, if you looked up at the structure at the precise moment, you’d catch a set of doors swing open and moving theme-park cars with seated attendees loop around a deck outside the building before disappearing through another set of doors. As we stood outside the LVCC looking on, we noticed all the phones raised to capture the moment. One person described it as “Disneyland over there.” A few seconds later, the Las Vegas Monorail, wrapped in “Hey Google” branding, sailed along the raised platform behind Google’s structure. Talk about visibility.
On the ground level of the building, reworked from CES last year but equal in scale, friendly Googlers greeted attendees and offered the lay of the land. Inside, a main travel artery snaked through the building to the back entrance with open-air interactive product spaces for demos manned by specialists on either side. Off of the main artery, more demo spaces inspired by use-case scenarios and product partners. There was a bustling café offering a menu of pick-me-ups and lounge seating, as well.
Naturally, things got interesting in the line for The Ride. Googlers handed out snacks to keep us happy while we waited. Attendees also caught a first look at 3D characters that would be featured on the ride—while in the queue line, a grandmother character knitting in a rocking chair beside her cat chatted with attendees in real time (via a staffer on the other side of a hidden camera, we learned).
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We reached a dark staging area where brand ambassadors closed the doors, LED lights sparkled like stars on the ceiling, and a giant character snored in a bed in front of us. This experience would help kick off the story of a parent managing a hectic day of running errands with the kids while planning for their grandmother’s 90th birthday… and how Google Assistant would help all along the way.
After that opening vignette, we headed upstairs, passing bright and colorful household vignettes that tied into use-cases for Google Assistant and the story Google would tell on The Ride: “A story of love, loss and personalized morning routines.” We lined up in numbered rows like a theme park ride and boarded two-seater cars. The gentlemen next to us clutched a Nest camera he won from Google’s giant gumball machine giveaway activation (more on that in a minute).
The ride lurched forward and we entered a …read more