Google successfully tests smart displays that activate without a wake word

A new feature being internally tested at Google could remove the necessity to mention “Hey Google” before voicing commands to Nest Hub smart displays, Android Central reports. Instead, the feature codenamed “Blue Steel” could allow the device to easily sense your presence, and proactively listen for commands without first wanting to hear the wake word.

The functionality has been shown off during a video posted to YouTube by Jan Boromeusz, who Android Central notes previously leaked features just like the Nest Hub’s new dark mode before its official announcement. Within the video, Boromeusz are often seen posing for a spread of data, all without once uttering the words “Hey Google.” His Nest Hub Max smart display is reportedly running leaked internal firmware meant for testing within Google, and it’s unclear if the corporate has any plans to release the functionality publicly. Using ultrasound sensing by Nest Hub Max to sense the presence of a person and start listening.

However, within the future, this same technology could allow it to concentrate out for voice commands when it knows you’re nearby. Ars Technica speculates that it could also use its camera’s Face Match feature to urge a far better idea of who’s speaking.

If released to the general public, Blue Steel could raise privacy concerns. A key element of current smart speakers and displays is that they only concentrate to what you’re saying after they hear the wake word. Relying upon proximity detection alone increases the danger of the devices hearing something they’re not alleged to, at the expense of your privacy.

That said, “Blue Steel” could bring a useful optional feature for a few. Having to repeatedly say “Hey Google” or “Ok Google” before every voice command are often a pain, and this potentially makes accessing information you would like far quicker.

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