According to 9to5Google’s latest APK Insights deep dive, a new, upcoming feature was discovered for Nest Hub Max users. Instead of activating your display traditionally using the “Hey Google” hotword phrase, you’ll be able to trigger Assistant just by looking at it, and yes, I’m being serious.
In version 13.14 of the Google app beta, something called “Look and Talk” was uncovered. It was originally codenamed “Blue Steel” after Ben Stiller’s modeling stare in the movie Zoolander. He turns and looks directly into the camera, sucking in his cheeks and raising his eyebrows to look more charismatic (or so that’s the intention). It actually reminds me of a recent TikTok trend called “Model Face” – don’t ask me how I know that.
Moving right along, according to Google, Look and Talk lets you “look at the display from up to 5ft away to talk to Google” – no hotword (or model face) needed. Data processed to trigger Assistant is kept on-device, and is never sent to Google. To work, it utilizes your camera sensing and analyzes your video to determine if you want to activate Google.
Due to this, it may activate at times when you didn’t intend for it to, in which case you’ll just deactivate it and carry on. I’m hoping that a sensitivity setting can be integrated for the camera in the future. Perhaps Google can give the Nest Hub Max a depth perception setting, allowing the camera to only process data from a foot to four feet away in addition to the five.
Again, data is kept on device unless you process an Assistant request, but I think that if it activates on accident and people are speaking in the background, this voice data could get sent to Google on accident. I do personally have concerns about the many methods of activating Assistant that have come into existence over the past few years, and I hope that some additional controls get implemented to help users avoid the seemingly unavoidable privacy intrusions that so many eyes and ears in the sanctuary that is their home will likely inevitably lead it. Google is playing with fire when it comes to smart home tech, so let’s just hope it can hold it in its palm without getting burnt.