Google Nest Hub Gets Look and Feel Feature

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Google has officially released the Look and Talk feature for the Nest Hub Max smart displays that awakens Google Assistant without a spoken wakeword.

The visual activation is part of a package of voice features that Google Nest is encouraging users to try out, including new rigntones for the Nest doorbell themed for the Fourth of July.

LOOK AND TALK

Look and Talk uses the camera on the Google Nest Hub Max to detect someone looking at the screen, signaling Google Assistant as a wakeword. Instead of saying “Hey, Google,” and issuing voice commands, users could simply look into the camera from up to five feet away and just start making requests of the voice assistant. The tool uses facial recognition as a visual “always listening” system much like how smart speakers and displays rely on their microphones being on to hear when someone uses a wakeword. Look and Talk was previously rumored to be named Blue Steel, the signature facial expression of Ben Stiller’s character in the film Zoolander,

Like the audio wakeword, Google Assistant processes the whole experience on the device, including recognizing people and their intent using both Face and Voice Match. Presumably, that would mean it wouldn’t work for people not on the connected Google accounts or those using Guest Mode to talk to the voice assistant anonymously. Only the Google Nest Hub Max among Google Assistant-enabled devices comes with a camera, but the option could theoretically work with any future devices with a camera. It could also help with limiting Google Assistant’s accidental awakenings.

Google also highlighted new and recent voice features for its other services. For instance, Google Assistant now understands requests to show the user’s watchlist on Chromecast, while Nest cameras can be operated by Alexa as well as Google’s own voice assistant. And for the Fourth of July, Nest doorbells have added  “God Bless America,” “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and the sound of fireworks to the ringtone list.

“Your Nest devices just got more streamlined, just in time for summer,” Google explained in a blog post about the new features. “From your favorite channels in the Live tab on Chromecast with Google TV, to a more natural way of getting help from Google on Nest Hub Max, the latest Nest updates make life at home a little more helpful.”