COVID-19 measures, particularly lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders, have taken a toll on everyone. For one group in particular, however, these days have been more emotionally and psychologically draining because of being socially isolated even from their loved ones. These are the high-risk seniors that may, unfortunately, be living by themselves or in retirement communities away from children and grandchildren. Google is now reaching out to these people with Nest Hub Max units and a new experience fine-tuned for their particular needs.
The Nest Hub Max, with its large screen, loud speakers, and built-in camera, is already a suitable device for keeping connected with family and friends but, as with any fancy new technology, some of our elders in society are practically afraid to even use them. Whether it be through a touch screen user interface or Google Assistant voice controls, some people find those features intimidating or confusing.
Google Assistant and Nest teams have, well, teamed up, to improve that user experience for seniors to make their lives easier during these times. Nest Hub Maxes will have a pre-loaded shortlist of contacts that will make it easier to make a video call with as few taps as needed. There will also be new “What can you do?” informational cards that will give users hints at the many things they can ask Google Assistant to do for them.
This new senior-centric experience isn’t rolling out to the general populace, though. The first “beta testers” will the recipients of 1,000 Nest Hub Max devices distributed to residents in Merrill Gardens retirement homes in Washington State. And, before you ask, yes, Google is ensuring their privacy and that all activity is anonymous and no audio recordings are stored.
Whether or not the UI rolls out to all Nest Hub Max, Google isn’t saying yet. It would be a timely update given the rising need for virtual face-to-face communication these days. Of course, it would require someone else to set up the experience and hopefully, Google will figure out how to help families do that for senior members remotely.