Google continued its big push into the realm of voice technology in 2018, taking over an entire house at SXSW.
Electric Google buggies ferried festivalgoers to the connected house on Austin’s East Cesar Chavez Street, which featured 12 tricked-out rooms and installations. Inside, an immersive guided experience brought to life the many ways in which users can use voice to control the home, remotely and in situ.
Offering up an immediately compelling case for use, the Hangover Room demonstrated how the weary Assistant user can close their blinds, set some soft lighting and call up a soothing soundtrack, using voice alone and without leaving their cosy bed.
Other rooms highlighted the third-party integrations and partnerships which extend the Assistant’s capabilities. For instance, you can now water your lawn by commanding Rachio to turn on the sprinklers, or ask LG to set a laundry programme on your washing machine. Absent-minded pet-lovers can remotely command their pet feeder to dispense kibble for their hungry pet, while chatting to Fido using Nest Cam. No doubt Google is hoping the activation will encourage more brands to join the family.
Google also had some fun imagining future voice-activated applications, including a robot to tidy your sock drawer and a cocktail machine able to blend the perfect Patrón margarita.
Some may question the necessity of such labour saving—and yet there’s unquestionably an appetite for these integrations. Our “Speak Easy” report found that more than two thirds (69%) of global smartphone users are interested in the idea of a voice-activated TV, while almost half (45%) would be happy to chat with their fridge.
The Fun House points to an emerging future in which our interactions with technology become ever more frictionless and natural. The technology itself is becoming ambient and invisible. As Brad Abrams, group product manager at Google Assistant, told Adweek, “When technology gets out of the way, it frees up time for what really matters.”
Like knocking up the perfect margarita—then dealing with your tequila hangover.
For more SXSW Interactive 2018 coverage click here.