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Image credit: Associated Press

Google's mobile research team will watch you use its products

It's far less creepy than that sounds. Hopefully.

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Associated Press

Despite what your parents told you, it sounds like there's at least one van that's safe to go inside when you're asked. Google is hitting the road to see how people outside of its San Francisco-area backyard use its products. The Associated Press reports that the mobile research station will be doing a handful of tour stops across America in an effort to act as a sort of focus group to "shape the future" of its services and apps.

"We are trying to understand the whole end-to-end experience, which is why we are trying to get out to more locations and see more people so we can gather more context," Google's Laura Granka tells the AP.

Some 500 folks across California, Colorado, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York and Utah will spend between 15 and 90 minutes inside the van while the search juggernaut's researchers take a gander. What'll they get in return? Google tees and gift cards. The AP says that should this incredibly small group provide any usable info the road trip will expand later this year and possibly to other countries.

You'd think that simply analyzing the surfeit of data it has on millions of users would be cheaper, but hey, if anyone has money to burn on wild ideas, it's Alphabet, Inc.

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