I/O is a software show as highlighted by Google Duplex at the 2018 keynote. For the longest time, the primary Google hardware presence were phones used to demo the latest Android developer preview. However, this year, Made by Google had an iconic presence through a Home Max installation.
Google created and installed a booth at the Shoreline Amphitheater in the shape of the Home Max. Fairly detailed, the top and sides slanted to match the actual speaker, while up front is a faux grill and the four Assistant dots to note activity on Home.
Four to five people could enter the room per session with a glass door featuring the multicolored ‘G’ logo on the left-hand side. While the small building was Chalk colored, the actual Home Max unit was Charcoal.
Nearly every surface in the interior was reflective glass, while the smart speaker was located at the far end of the room. With a button near the door, the rep initiated the light show that emitted from the entire wall directly behind the Assistant device.
After a preamble, users were invited to play a song with a matching display of lights that synced to the tune and beat. They were advised that users could create a vaguely similar setup using regular Assistant compatible light bulbs.
The failing of all premium smart speaker demos in stores, regardless of brand — Google, Sonos, or Apple, is how they are displayed in an open floor. Even in an Apple Store, every HomePod sits on the traditional wood table with no special experience to truly capture how great the sound quality is. With Home Max, that Smart Sound machine learning capability excelled in the I/O enclosure.
The shape of the building can draw people to try a demo, while the interior light show is highly Instagramable and shareable, with most people exiting the experience asking for a photo of them against the lights with the Home Max in the shot.
Google through its Made by push should at the very least put these Home Max-shaped booths inside stores, like Best Buys, where many locations already have a Chromebook section. But ideally, they could be placed everywhere in the world, like a street installation.