Google is consolidating its Nest and Google Home divisions with the Google Nest Hub Max, a slightly bigger version of the Google Home Hub (now the Google Nest Hub) speaker. Beyond the larger size (a 10-inch touchscreen instead of a 7-inch touchscreen), the Nest Hub Max’s most noteworthy addition is a new camera with facial and gesture recognition capabilities.
Thanks to facial recognition, the Nest Hub Max will be able to identify the faces of individual users and display personalized information like calendar events and messages. Gesture recognition will create new ways to interact with the device, allowing users to stop or start an application by holding up a hand from anywhere in the room.
Of course, the introduction of the camera does raise some privacy concerns. The camera can be turned off with a switch located behind the screen, but that switch also turns off the microphone and limits the utility of the device. The camera can be turned off in the software menu, but there is no physical shutter to ensure that no one is watching.
For its part, Google insists that facial recognition models will be stored locally, and that any video footage will not be reviewed by anyone at Google. Meanwhile, an indicator light will always come on to let everyone know when the camera is in use.
In addition to facial and gesture recognition, the Nest Hub Max enables basic video calls and can be used as a security camera.
Previous versions of the Nest boasted of similar facial recognition capabilities. The integration with Google Home is unsurprising given Google’s recent efforts to merge the two divisions. The Google Nest Hub Max will retail for $229.