Google Nest Max

Google is Experimenting With a Simpler Google Nest Max Interface at Retirement Homes

Google is testing a simplified interface for its Nest Hub Max smart displays in retirement communities. The tech giant is giving away 1,000 Nest Hub Max devices to seven Merrill Gardens communities in Washington State to try out the new format and may include it as a universal option if the pilot goes well.

Smart and Straightforward

The Nest Hub Max comes with a lot of options and features, but not everyone who gets one is interested in exploring every voice app. And while Google wants them to be intuitive, that doesn’t mean that people, especially those who don’t use this kind of technology a lot, will find the features they are interested in without difficulty. The adjusted smart displays sent to Merrill Gardens come with immediate access to a contact list for video calls with Google Duo, along with digital notecards explaining how to use the Google Nest Max. The devices also operate in an anonymous mode unconnected to the cloud and don’t store audio data or activity history.

“In addition to providing Nest Hub Maxes, the Nest and Google Assistant teams wanted to make setup even easier for less tech-savvy users,” Google explained in a blog post. The teams created a new experience that we’re kicking off with Merrill Gardens residents, where they will have access to a pre-loaded shortlist of contacts, making video calls even easier. There are new “What can you do?” cards, too, that act like shortcuts for showing weather reports, setting alarms or playing relaxing sounds.”

Isolation Connection

Google connected the pilot program with the current COVID-19 health crisis and how the smart display can help with mental and emotional health. It’s the same reason that Facebook is giving away Portal smart displays in a program with the Department of Veteran Affairs. There’s a growing trend in applying voice and AI to healthcare, whether it’s common consumer voice assistants or more elaborate robots like temi or the cat-faced Mylo. Researchers are only beginning to explore the value of smart speakers and smart displays in curbing loneliness. Still, studies by Project Zilver and Voice for Loneliness are already demonstrating how, along with keeping people connected by phone and video calls, voice assistants can be comforting companions.


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