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Tokyo's Shibuya gets a big-screen Google voice search terminal

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Arguably, the whole convenience of Google's search and map skills (and by association, the voice-guided version) is the fact it's on your smartphone -- which is right in your pocket. However, In a bid to explain to Tokyo-ites that there's more to the eminently tech-friendly Shibuya outside of That Starbucks and the scramble-crossing, Google's erected a temporary structure right outside the station. Not only can you make voice search requests for the nearest tech store or... french patisserie, it'll display a map and directions on a huge 138-inch screen -- which you can then take a photo of, presumably, with your smartphone.

As you can see, the interface looks almost identical to voice-based interactions on Android phones. There's a giant mic to pick up your commands over the throngs of people constantly ducking in and out of the nearby station. From our time with it, Google's robots still found it hard to pull out simple commands from the buzz of the crowds. When it does pick it up, it'll then parse what you're saying and offer up suggestions just like, well, Google voice search. The collaboration with Shibuya's tourist board and local businesses aims to offer visitors some navigational help when getting around. Given the area's reputation for tangled back-alleys and hidden shops, you might need all the assistance you can get.

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