Google Emphasized ‘Fun’ For The Connected Home At SxSW

Google showed Austin visitors at SxSW how to throw a house party -- with some help from the Google Assistant and Domino's Pizza.

While Amazon’s Alexa scouted out a head start in the voice activated assistant race, Google Assistant has appeared to be catching up.

And despite some unexpected weather mishaps during CES 2018, Google’s showcase at that major event was a win in the eyes of tech observers at Engadget and Techcrunch.

During last weekend’s SxSW Interactive, while the lines were long at HBO’s Westworld exhibition, The Google Fun House attracted a fair share of attendees with a indoor and outdoor party that attempted to show the wide variety of things the Google Assistant can do inside and out.

Google’s branded Lowrider at its SxSW Fun House

It’s been a year-and-a-half since Google unveiled its “Made By Google” line of Connected Intelligence, voice-activated devices and Pixel phone – all powered by Google Assistant (aka “Okay, Google.”)

Since then, it’s ramped up its challenge to Amazon’s Echo and Alexa’s shopping tools. The national brands that have formally aligned with Google’s voice-activated virtual assistant to accept spoken orders via the delivery marketplace Google Express include Costco, Guitar Center, Kohl’s, L’Occitane, Payless, PetSmart, Road Runner Sports, Sur La Table, Ulta, Walgreens, Amazon’s Whole Foods, Walmart’s 4,700 stores, and Panera Bread.

Domino’s Pizza joined the roster of Google Assistant ordering partners last December and played a starring role in the Google Fun House last weekend (pizzas were handed out to those waiting in line, while those inside got to test ordering by saying, “Okay Google, talk to Domino’s…” and then track an order using the pizza chain’s “order tracker” on its mobile app).

The SxSW showcase was part of the search giant’s wider Make Google Do It campaign, which was developed by the Creative Lab at Google. While outside the Fun House, SxSW badge-holders could try out a Google-branded “low-rider” parked on the lawn that responds with “bounces” when the car’s Google Assistant is asked to find a parking spot (also then plays the 70s hit Lowrider by the band War)

Inside, those taking the tour get served Patrón margaritas — the spirits company has partnered with Amazon’s Alexa as well — made after a voice command by the Google Assistant. The 11 other rooms in the two-story house on East Cesar Chavez Blvd demonstrated automatic pet-feeding, a “hangover bedroom” that featured a relaxing playlist as a robot arm sorted a sock drawer (because who is going to put their socks away when nursing a splitting headache and upset stomach, right?).

“At the heart of the campaign we highlight all the moments throughout the day where it would be great if we could get an extra bit of help to get something done,” a Google rep told GeoMarketing. “This shows how the Google Assistant can be useful in turning on the lights, taking down a reminder, reply to messages hands-free, and more. By using the Google Assistant, you have the agency to get things done more easily. The Google Fun House at SxSW builds on this concept, showing typical uses of the Assistant but also the creative potential of the Google Assistant platform for developers and brands.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.