Google Adds Ultrasound To Make Nest Hub Devices More Useful, Private


Google is reportedly rolling out a new ultrasound feature that will make both the Google Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max more aware of their surroundings and helpful.

Summarily, that takes advantage of Nest Hub speakers to push out ultrasonic sound waves — allegedly undisturbing even to pets. It then uses the mic to listen for variances in the audio. The Google-built speaker-enhanced displays use those variations to calculate whether or not a person is in close proximity. That makes Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max effectively 'aware' of their surroundings.

With that awareness in place, Google's smart hubs alter the built-in display to better meet users' needs. For example, as a person approaches their device, it showcases more detailed information and at a smaller size. The new feature also adjusts on-screen controls, pushing those forward as a person comes within a certain distance. That reduces the number of physical interactions required to access features.


Conversely, the feature eliminates and increases the size of on-screen elements as a person moves away from the device — showing only the most important relevant details. That keeps information such as the current weather, time, or other details easier to read at a distance.

Continuing privacy push with Google Nest and ultrasound

A huge part of Google's most recent updates and other efforts have centered around privacy. That appears to be true of this most recent addition to Nest Hub devices too. That's entirely aside from making the devices more useful and improving readability at a distance.

Google's Nest Hub Max can, in fact already do what the incoming change does. It even does it with a number of extra perks such as recognizing individual users and presenting pertinent personalized information. For example, it can show a user their appointments for the day or other reminders. That's just one of a few unique features that make the device one of the best smart home products around.


The key difference is in how that's accomplished, instead of relying on data that could potentially pose a reasonable privacy risk or components that a user might be uncomfortable about. More succinctly, Nest Hub Max utilizes a camera to accomplish its features. The new feature relies entirely on sound.

Now, Google itself has said users should let visitors and guests know about smart home devices before they come inside. It's also started rolling out a number of major privacy changes across nearly all of its apps and services. In some cases, those have got it into trouble or roused suspicion about potential regulatory violations.

This latest ultrasound-based change appears to be yet another step for Google's efforts to add new features, this time to Nest Hub devices while keeping its focus on privacy at the forefront. In both cases, users are able to access the proximity-based features with absolutely no camera input needed.


Coming today?

Google has reportedly confirmed that the new ultrasonic feature is beginning its rollout starting today. The company hasn't detailed exactly how long it expects the rollout to take.

This is presumably a server-side update. So users shouldn't need to update their device software via the Google Home app to gain the new features either. Typically, those update automatically regardless of how changes are set to arrive. Instead, users should just notice the new features arriving.

Google hasn't provided details about the availability of the features either. But it should become available anywhere Nest Hub devices are sold.