The smart home is already pretty advanced, letting you operate devices like smart lights and thermostats via smartphone apps or simply by speaking. But now it’s about to get a lot smarter, thanks to these new innovations.
They include face tracking during video calls, profiles for each member of the family and a personal assistant that helps you find what you need on the web. They were all unveiled by Google at its recent I/O conference on its Nest Hub Max speaker.
1. Face tracking during video calls
The Nest Hub Max smart screen is basically a tablet for the home that works as the central hub of your smart home. Like Google Home speakers, it comes with Google Assistant built in, so you can use your voice to control your smart home appliances.
It has some pretty nifty features of its own, too, chief among them is the ability to track your movements during a video call.
Video calls are usually quite static affairs – you sit still, stare into the camera, and that’s about it. If you do want to get up and move around, you have to angle the camera accordingly, otherwise the person you’re calling is stuck with a view of a blank wall.
Google Nest Hub Max, however, can adjust its angle to follow you around the room. So if you want to show off your new purchase, tidy the room, or do anything else that involves movement while on a video call, you can.
2. A personal assistant for the web
Google Assistant, the firm’s voice-activated personal assistant, is also getting smarter.
It can now store all of your information and automatically fill in forms for you online, which is handy when booking a hire car, cinema tickets or dinner reservations. All you have to do is give the form a quick glance to check the information is accurate, then click to confirm.
And that’s not all. Google Assistant can also now do pretty much anything you can do from a PC, phone or tablet, including writing an email (including coming up with a subject line and attaching photos) and supplying personalised directions somewhere (e.g. “navigate to mum’s house”). All by using your voice.
3. Profiles for each member of the family
Nest Hub Max also has facial recognition built-in, so it knows who’s using it just by looking at their face, and will load their profile automatically without them having to log in with a password.
Picture it – you walk through the door, take one glance at the device and it shows you all your notifications straight away, complete with your personalised wallpaper and visual theme. From there, you can load your music, your radio stations, call your contacts and more, all by speaking.
4. Digital photos that suit the room
Smartphone cameras are fantastically convenient, as you almost always have one with you. And with camera quality so high nowadays, the results can be indiscernible from those taken by a professional photographer.
There’s just one snag - all those beautiful photos usually stay on your phone where no one can see them.
The Nest Hub Max is a great way to show them off. When not in use, it works as a digital photo frame, cycling through a slideshow of your finest snaps. It even detects the colour and light in the room and adjusts your photos so they blend in naturally with their environment. It’s home decor without the hassle.
5. Hands-free controls for cooking
Cooking is a messy business. When you have chicken fat, flour or olive oil all over your hands, the last thing you want to do is touch your expensive tablet. But how else are you going to see the next step in the recipe?
This is where gesture controls come in. By simply looking at the Nest Hub Max’s screen and raising your hand, you can pause videos. Then repeat the gesture to resume. You’ll have that recipe nailed in no time, all while your shiny, pristine device remains just that.