A new FCC filing for a Google-made device has just appeared to kick off our excitement for what the company may be planning for 2021. The device in question could possibly be a new Nest Hub with Google’s Project Soli chip integrated.
Project Soli started out in the Pixel 4 phone and was used to perform non-important tasks like changing your music by waving your hand across your screen or playing with Pikachu…yeah. Now I love completing my Pokedex just as much as the next 32-year-old kid, but such a novelty didn’t seem at place there and it certainly didn’t make its way to subsequent Pixel devices. Luckily, the chip did wind up in the new Nest Thermostat for performing heating and cooling gestures in the air. Now, it could find another home in the next generation of Nest smart home devices.
The filing reveals a bunch about this device, boosting our confidence level in its form factor. It lists A4R-GUIK2 as an “interactive device”, which in Google-speak means a display or a speaker. However, the device’s FCC e-label points to an inbuilt screen.
“Regulatory information, certification, and compliance marks can be found with theFCC E-label Declaration
following steps from the Home screen: System settings > Regulatory labels.”
The device will also feature Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and something called Zigbee – a Wi-Fi alternative better suited for low-powered smart home devices that does not focus on point-to-point communication between them, but rather on a mesh network. It’s been around for more than a decade and uses very little bandwidth. With Zigbee, two devices – even if they’re from different manufacturers – will better communicate with one another. This sounds a lot like the Works with Hey Google initiative, so maybe it will help to further that in time, but that’s just my guess.
If this new device does end up being a Nest Hub that has gesture controls, this has several major implications. First, you would no longer need a camera as with the Nest Hub Max to perform gestures like stopping music by placing your hand up in front of it (though this would still be needed for video calls). This also means that the Max wouldn’t be the only display capable of these actions as its smaller Nest Hub counterpart would also be able to join in on the fun.
Next, a lot more gestures could be possible. Imagine waving your hand left or right in front of your Hub to change the song, swiping your hand up or down to change the volume, waving your hand away from yourself to stop the music, or even shaping your hand in the universal sign of a phone to call a favorite contact. None of this would require you to continually activate the device using the “Okay Google” hotword and people who dislike the “Continued Conversation” feature would win too.
The best part about a Soli chip is that it can identify micro-motions via radar detection to perform some pretty specific tasks. This means that the possibilities for the new Nest Hub could potentially be endless. Would you like to see the ability to train your display with custom hand motions tied to Assistant Routines? That would be pretty amazing! I definitely believe that Google taking Soli out of their phones and repurposing them for smart home technology was a great move as they finally feel right at home.