Google is reportedly testing a new feature to let users activate their smart speakers just by looking at them.
The tech giant has codenamed the feature “Blue Steel,” according to a leaked internet firmware of the new feature unveiled by known tipster Jan Boromeusz.
The feature would essentially allow people to activate Google Assistant without having to say “Hey Google” or “OK Google.” The device would sense your presence and proactively listen for commands without hearing the wake word.
Boromeusz posted a video of the new feature on YouTube, in which he can be seen asking his Nest Hub Max device questions without using the wake word. His device is reportedly running the leaked internal firmware.
Rumours have indicated that the Nest Hub Max is able to sense a person’s presence through its existing ultrasound sensing capabilities. These capabilities are currently only used to adjust the information that it displays.
It’s worth noting that it’s unknown if Google actually plans to release this feature publicly, since it still appears to be in the testing phase.
There’s also no doubt that if Google were to release this feature, there would be significant privacy concerns. Currently, one of the main privacy elements of smart speakers is that they only listen to what you say after they hear the wake word.
However, if the devices are able to rely on proximity detection, there’s the possibility the device may hear something that you want to keep private. Of course, some people may actually want the new feature, in which case introducing it as an “optional” functionality could be useful.
Source: The Verge