If virtual assistants haven’t yet taken over the entire tech world, they’ve at least conquered CES, the annual tech expo that’s going on right now in Las Vegas. Alexa, Google Assistant, and various also-rans are de rigueur among this year’s wares at the conference, animating everything from lawnmowers to dishwashers to a $7,000 smart toilet.
Setting the stage for the event were dueling announcements last week from Amazon and Google about the reach of their respective A.I.s. Amazon disclosed last week that it had sold 100 million Alexa devices. Days later, Google reported that its Assistant would soon be on more than 1 billion devices, although that’s cheating a bit, since the vast majority of those are not smart speakers or appliances but Android phones.
Fudgy figures aside, it’s clear that both have already infiltrated millions of lives, and CES 2019 foreshadows a future in which the majority of home appliances respond to either “Alexa,” “Hey Google,” or both.