Google internally testing proximity-based Assistant activation for its smart displays

Just this week, Google announced a major revamp for its Smart Displays’ UI, bringing a host of features such as a dark theme, tabbed UI, contextual content, and improvements to support for multiple accounts. While those features are just heading out to users, a video of an unreleased build suggests that Google is working on a feature that lets Google Assistant in smart displays to start listening for commands when users are in close proximity to the device.

The video, posted by Jan Boromeusz, shows off a Nest Hub Max running an internal firmware version, with a setting to enable ‘Dogfood Features’ – which are test features – on the device, under which a ‘Blue Steel’ option is present. Turning on the feature enables the device to automatically trigger the Google Assistant without having to say the wake word. It is not clear if the capability is powered by the camera using Face Match or via ultrasonic presence sensing.

There is no telling if the feature will ever make it to the public. The poster told folks over at Android Police that the feature stopped working after tipping the publication, with the display no longer being able to go online. It is also not clear what privacy features will be built into such a feature – if it ever makes it to production, considering that the display will be listening to commands for a short period after the user stands in close proximity.

The ability to walk up to a smart display and directly say the command instead of having to use the wake word every time could be a nifty feature. However, there are more questions than answers. It will be interesting to see what other features the search giant adds to its smart displays.

Source: Jan Boromeusz (YouTube) via Android Police

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