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New Google Nest Hub could get Soli gesture controls — here’s what we know

Google Nest Hub
(Image credit: Future)

A new Google Nest Hub is likely in the works, according to an FCC filing that details a smart display device with Google’s Soli chip for enhanced motion gesture controls.

As spotted by 9to5Google, the filing covers an “interactive device” with an integrated screen, and includes certain usage instructions that match those of the current Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max. Should this turn out to be a brand new Nest Hub, it would be the first addition to the series since the Nest Hub Max launched over a year ago.

The juiciest detail in this otherwise dry technical document is the apparent inclusion of Soli, a radar chip Google built for extremely fine motion tracking of hand gestures. A 58-63.5 GHz transmitter is listed among the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth specs, matching the frequency range of the Soli chip as it appeared in the Pixel 4 smartphone.

While Google dropped Soli and its Motion Sense controls for the Pixel 5, it continued to find applications for the tech by including Soli in the Nest Thermostat, and now appears to be turning its attention to the more mainstream Nest Hub as well.

A wider range of supported motion gestures would certainly be ideal for a smart display, and would allow Google to build on the Nest Hub Max’s existing but relatively limited gesture controls. For instance, instead of simply pausing and playing music, you could swipe at the air to skip tracks or adjust the volume.

Better motion controls on a Nest Hub could also allow help you prepare meals by allowing you to scroll through menus with messy hands. Google could also copy the existing gesture controls that Soli enables for the Nest Thermostat, and make them usable on the Nest Hub — such as raising or lowering the temperature by moving your fingers up or down. It could be possible to control other smart home devices with similar gestures, too.

New Google Nest Hub: What we know so far

Google Nest Hub

(Image credit: Google)

This FCC filing is the first, if reasonably compelling, piece of evidence that a new Nest Hub is on the way. Although the original Nest Hub launched as the Google Home back in 2018, Google has preferred to improve its smart displays with new features via over-the-air updates instead of brand new devices, so it has never been apparent that a new device would come along to directly replace it.

This would change with a Soli-powered Nest Hub, as Google obviously can’t add whole new hardware features through software updates. Improved motion controls wouldn’t be the only notable update, either: the 9to5Google report also notes support for Zigbee, a standardized communication protocol for wireless smart home devices.

In theory, this could further enhance the new Nest Hub’s capabilities as a smart home controller, as it would gain seamless compatibility with a range of Zigbee-compliant devices. This would in turn help Google close the gap between the Nest Hub and Amazon’s Echo devices, which already support Zigbee and are widely considered the more versatile choice.