Here is why a new Google Nest Hub getting Soli radar tech makes sense
First upgrade in three years expected for Google's smaller Nest display
It has been over two years since Google first launched its Home Hub smart display, now known as the Nest Hub. And now, according to an FCC filing, it looks like an update is on the way.
Spotted by 9to5Google, a filing has been made by Google with the Federal Communications Commission, detailing a new device with a screen, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, the Zigbee smart home standard, and what looks like Google's radar technology, Soli.
Soli first appeared on the Pixel 4 smartphone in 2019. Using radar technology, the sensor could spot nearby gestures, helping users interact with the phone without touching it. The technology was dropped for the Pixel 5 in 2020 and no longer appears on Google phones, but was added to the company's latest Nest smart thermostat.
In that device, Soli spots when someone is nearby then turns on the screen to show them the temperature and other HVAC information.
The new device is described in the FCC filing as an "interactive device", which is the same classification Google has previously used for the Nest Hub and Hub Max smart displays, plus the Nest Mini and Nest Audio smart speakers, and the Nest Wifi wireless router.
According to the FCC filing, the new device includes a wireless component that operates at the 58-63.5 GHz frequency range. This is the same as the Soli of the Pixel 4, but not the latest Nest thermostat. This would suggest the device can detect motion gestures like those used to control the Pixel 4, and could see users interact with content on the display by waving their hand.
The larger Nest Hub Max already has gesture support, but understands motion using a camera, which the smaller Hub lacks. Google's Soli technology is a way to bring motion gesture support to the smart display, but without the privacy implications of a camera.
Given how smart displays like the Nest Hub lend themselves well to use in the kitchen, hands-free gesture control makes a lot of sense. That way, users could potentially wave at the screen to progress through a recipe without touching the display with food-covered fingers while cooking.
We can also see potential for alarms being switched off with the wave of a hand; doing so in the morning could even trigger a smart home routine to start the user's day.
We are also pleased to see the potential inclusion of Zigbee with the new Google device. Like Z-Wave, Zigbee is a wireless smart home standard used to connect devices together and send data and instructions between them. Including Zigbee should make the device compatible with even more smart home devices than work with Google's current Nest Hub.
Having arrived back in October 2018 as the Google Home Hub, the Nest Hub is due for a refresh, and we hope the FCC filing means its replacement will be along soon.
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