May 7, 2019 / 5:42 PM / a year ago

Google demos car bookings by voice assistant at annual I/O event

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., May 7 (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc's Google business on Tuesday offered a preview of voice technology that lets users make rental car bookings for upcoming trips with just a simple ask of the company's virtual assistant tool.

The capability, which Google demonstrated with National Car Rental's website, builds on the company's push over the last two years to integrate more artificial intelligence-fueled features into its virtual helper, Google Assistant.

Google also unveiled augmented reality technology that enables users to view renderings of some specialized visual search results, such as a model of a whale, in their environment through their smartphone cameras.

The demonstrations came at Google I/O, an annual event held near the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California, that attracts about 7,000 software developers who create apps for Google Assistant or other company platforms.

Google on Tuesday planned to reveal updates to its Android mobile operating system, its biggest platform. Also expected were a new model of its Pixel smartphone, Home smart speaker and some augmented reality features for apps such as Google Maps.

Shares were down 1.7 percent to $1,172.35 per share on Tuesday.

Alphabet shares have fallen from an all-time high of $1,296.98 since reporting quarterly sales last month that were $1 billion below expectations.

With revenue growth slowing and costs largely growing, some investors are anxious to see whether Google can commercialize its newest ventures in artificial intelligence, including the assistant.

The company is trying to fend off growing regulatory efforts that threaten its business model. Lawmakers in several regions including in the United States, United Kingdom and Singapore are weighing privacy and data rules that could limit how Google tracks consumers and distributes information. (Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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