Google released its Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max earlier this year, but the company has since updated the devices with ultrasound sensing capabilities to improve accessibility for older adults and people with vision impairment, the company said in a blog post on Wednesday.
Ultrasound sensing detects a user's distance from the Nest Hub devices to provide users with appropriate information depending on how close the user is from the devices.
"If you're close, the screen will show you more details and touch controls, and when you're further away, the screen changes to show only the most important information in larger text," Google said.
In the blog post, Google explained that the device could detect a user's distance by emitting inaudible sound waves that bounce off objects within a 4 feet range from the device, which are then picked back up by the device's microphones.
According to Ashton Udall, a Google Nest Product Manager, the ultrasound feature was created after Google's Smart Display team noticed how older adults would "often walk up to the device to read the information on the screen, because [they] couldn't see it easily from across the room".
To develop the screen designs for ultrasound sensing, Google tested varying text heights, contrast levels, and information density. It also measured the ease with which people could read information on the device's display.
The ultrasound sensing will function entirely on the device and will only be able to detect large-scale motion, such as a person's movements, without being able to identify who the person is, Google said.
When the feature was first released last month, ultrasound sensing could be used to display relevant information for timers, commute timers, and weather. From next week, Udall said, it will also be extended to show reminders, appointments, and alerts when users approach the display sometime next week.
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