Nov 6th, 2019

Google announced an update last month for the Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max that introduces a cool ultrasound sensing feature. Confirmation came today from Google, stating that the company has started rolling out the feature to both devices.

The new ultrasound sensing is an interesting and particularly clever workaround for the unfortunate fact that the original Nest Hub (Google Home Hub) doesn’t feature a camera. By using high-frequency sounds, the smart display knows whether you’re in the same room as it is, in addition to your approximate position. It will then use this information to adjust its on screen interface. For example, when you’re farther away from the Nest Hub, it will increase the size of its fonts to make them more legible. It will do the same with various information cards. With weather cards, the Nest Hub will display more detailed forecasts while sticking with just the essentials like the current temperature when you’re looking at it from a distance. Cool huh?

The introduction of this feature also enables something that Google is calling proactive notifications. The company introduced this functionality with the Nest Hub Max. Without a camera to see who’s looking at it, the Nest Hub won’t personalise notifications like the Nest Hub Max does; instead, it will show notifications that are available to everyone in your home. On the Nest Hub, ultrasound sensing is a way to use all of the above features while keeping the inside of your home private making it an even more attractive option for the more privacy conscious user.

If there is a Nest Mini or Nest WiFi in your home you can already use the feature on these devices. As neither of those devices include a display, its utility is more limited. You can experiment with the feature by hovering your hand over either of those devices, they’ll illuminate their indicator lights so you can see where you need to tap to adjust a setting.

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