If you are a big fan of the Nest Hub Max, “OK Google” and “Hey Google” are probably an unavoidable part of your daily routine. There are no other ways to invoke Google Assistant rather than using either wake words.
However, if you’ve grown bored by the default wake words, Google’s new Look and Talk feature is offering a new way for Nest Hub Max owners to use the smart speaker. Here’s what we know so far.
What Is Look and Talk on the Nest Hub Max?
The Nest Hub Max’s Look and Talk feature is exactly what it says on the label. It is the promise of skipping the hassle of using a wake word to initiate a conversation with your Google Assistant. Rather than saying a wake before issuing a command, the new feature will allow you to simply look at your Hub Max and issue commands.
Yes, it seems like a feature that might cause a lot of false triggers while you’re having a conversation at home. However, Google says it has a good filter system in place to avoid such clashes. The Look and Talk feature uses a wide range of environmental inputs to determine when a command is meant for it and when you’re simply having a conversation with someone. Wondering how that’s going to work? Google says it uses inputs from the Nest Hub Max’s microphone and camera.
An Always-Watching Camera
To make Look and Talk possible, your Nest Hub’s camera is a vital part of the puzzle. To accurately determine whether you’re talking to your Nest Hub, Google uses your camera to ascertain your proximity to the Nest Hub, lip movement, head orientation, and gaze direction. It combines these camera inputs with those received from your microphone to make a generally accurate guess of your intentions.
To use Look and Talk, Nest Hub Max users will have to opt in to use it and must have both Voice Match and Face Match enabled on their device. Face Match is only available on the Hub Max because the Nest Hub doesn’t have a camera.
As exciting as this may be, it raises an important question about privacy. Is our privacy being gradually chipped away? First, we gave away our audio to an always-listening microphone. Now we could be giving away much more to an always-watching camera. What could possibly go wrong?
What Could Go Wrong?
Google legitimately needs your camera and microphones to be always active (or at least regularly) to be able to capture the inputs it needs to pull off this new functionality. However, an always-watching camera doesn’t sound like a good combination with a device that’s connected to the internet.
But Google has stressed that it “built Look and Talk with your privacy in mind.” The feature will use on-device processing which means your video data will not be sent to the cloud where it could be vulnerable to prying eyes.
Also, the Nest Hub Max comes with a green indicator light that turns on whenever a recording is going on. This should alert a user if a malicious third party somehow gains access to a Hub Max’s video or audio feed.
A New Way to Use the Nest Hub Max
If privacy is a non-negotiable topic for you, you can still enjoy your Nest Hub Max without the Look and Talk feature. However, if using the default wake words has been a bit boring for you, feel free to try out Look and Talk.
Google Home vs. Nest vs. Wizard: What Are the Differences?
About The Author