Google Assistant ‘Look and Talk’ Activation Heads Toward Release
Google is beta testing a way to awaken Google Assistant with a glance instead of a spoken wake word on the Nest Hub Max, according to a report from 95o5 Google. Despite early rumors about ultrasound sensors, the “Look and Talk” feature will use the Google Nest Hub Max smart display’s camera to spot and activate Google Assistant when a user is looking at the camera built into the screen.
Look and Talk
The facial recognition wake word appears to be in beta testing right now, without any formal announcement about when it will become available. Look and See is a new name for what was previously called Blue Steel, a reference to the signature facial expression of Ben Stiller’s character in the film Zoolander. Turning on Look and Talk would make the Nest Hub Max’s camera a visual version of the “always listening” aspect of Google Assitant. Instead of saying “Hey, Google,” and issuing voice commands, users could simply look into the camera from up to five feet away and just start making requests of the voice assistant.
Like the audio wakeword, Google Assistant processes the whole experience on the device, including recognizing people and their intent using both Face and Voice Match. Presumably, that would mean it wouldn’t work for people not on the connected Google accounts or those using Guest Mode to talk to the voice assistant anonymously. Only the Google Nest Hub Max among Google Assistant-enabled devices comes with a camera, but the option could theoretically work with any future devices with a camera. In some ways, Look and Talk is like the gesture controls for the Nest Hub Max. As for the appeal of Look and Talk beyond novelty, it may make some tasks a little more efficient, but there may also be some attraction to being able to turn off the wakeword, and its attendant accidental recordings. Google Assistant accidentally awakening and recording people is a real, if uncommon concern, and one that Google and its voice assistant rivals are keen to eliminate