The Google Nest Hub is a smart speaker from Google that integrates a 7-inch touch screen and the virtual assistant Google Assistant. Below is a review of this smart speaker.
Unpacking, assembly and initial setup
In this section, a description of the Google Nest Hub packaging and unpacking process is carried out, describing the packaging and whether it is an accessible process for people with disabilities or the elderly. The initial setup procedure and possible difficulties encountered are also discussed.
Unpacking and assembly
The Google Nest Hub comes in a cardboard box wrapped in a transparent plastic very tight to the box. In order to open the box, it is necessary to break the plastic with a sharp tool such as scissors. This procedure involves holding the box in some way while tearing the plastic, so it may present some difficulty for people with reduced mobility or with some type of physical disability.
Once the plastic has been broken, and removed from the box, it is opened by pulling up, with two hands, in order to remove the lid of the box. With the lid removed, the Google Nest Hub is presented inserted in a piece of cardboard. After removing the Google Nest Hub, this piece of cardboard can be removed by pulling a slot in the center of it. On one side, and inside another piece of cardboard is the power adapter. In addition, in the center of the box, there is a small quick assembly guide.
Once the Google Nest Hub and the power adapter have been removed, the plastic that surrounds them must be removed. The protective plastic of the Google Nest Hub covers the entire screen, and you have to take it off by pulling some flaps glued to the back of the device, both on the sides and on the top and bottom. Likewise, the charger is also protected by another plastic that must be peeled off before it can be used.
The power charger connects to the device via an elongated circular plug at the bottom rear. This plug can be connected and disconnected from the device without any difficulty.
The initial configuration of the device must be done through the Google Home mobile application, available for Android and IOS. In this case, an IOS device has been used for its configuration.
The installation process is well explained in the application, describing each of the steps to be followed. However, the procedure is quite long. In addition, it is necessary to first create a Google account, in order to start the configuration process in order to associate the device with a user and give him access to Google services.
During the initial configuration process, some accessibility problems have been detected for certain groups, which are dealt with in the corresponding section.
The Google Nest Hub is a compact 178,5 x 67,3 x 118 millimeter speaker that integrates a 7-inch screen. On the back of the device are located the volume button, the switch for the microphone and the connector for the power adapter. The button for the volume is long and flat, and is located in the central right area, while the switch to connect and disconnect the microphones, circular and flat, is located in the upper central part. For its part, the connection for the power adapter is located at the bottom, slightly to the left. All these elements are perfectly detectable by touch.
The screen is 7 inches and is tilted slightly back both for good viewing and to facilitate interaction with it. The resolution is more than optimal for a screen of this size, with a wide color gamut and good sharpness. The brightness can be adjusted between 1 and 10, using voice commands such as "Lower the brightness 3 points" or "Increase the brightness 5 points". In addition, with the ambient light sensor included in the device, the brightness can be adjusted automatically, dimming in the hours of darkness. In relation to the response time to the keystrokes, this is good, although sometimes, if you make quick changes, it can take longer in the reaction time. For its part, the text that is displayed on the screen has good readability, with large black letters with a white background to say that it cannot display something.
The array of two long-range microphones is more than enough for a correct detection of the user's voice, being able to detect and identify verbal commands with background noise, at a considerable distance and in opposite directions. The system is capable of identifying the user, even with a slightly altered voice, although not when he whispers or speaks very softly. In addition, there are times when you do not understand what is being said, and have some difficulties to stop the audio playback. An interesting quality, thanks to Voice Match, is that it is capable of identifying up to 6 different users by voice, since each user is assigned a voice profile.
The device includes a full-range speaker located at the rear, which is more than enough to provide quality sound. In addition, the volume of this can be controlled by voice commands, such as "Lower the volume by 2 stops" or "Increase the volume to maximum".
This section will analyze the interaction with the Google Nest Hub and the Google Home application, necessary for the initialization and configuration of the device.
Google Nest Hub
The device has a 7-inch screen on which all content is displayed. At the top is the menu that contains the options related to the home group and all configured smart devices. At the bottom is the menu that contains the options related to some configuration parameters of the device itself. Both menus are hidden and are displayed by sliding your finger from the top down or from the bottom up, depending on the menu you want to open. These menus are well structured, with clear menu options.
Google Home application
The application presents a well-kept interface organized in five tabs, through which you can access the different devices, the user account, the microphone to interact with the assistant, YouTube videos and applications that can play your content on the device. The less positive aspect is due to the fact that some configuration menus are very hidden. One of these menus, for example, is the accessibility of the Google Nest Hub device.
The Google Nest Hub uses the Google Assistant as a virtual assistant, so listening comprehension is determined by its good or bad performance. Oral recognition is generally very good, with verbal commands being recognized most of the time. However, sometimes he has not understood words or orders, or has not been able to give an answer to them.
The Google Nest Hub uses natural language both to receive orders and to display its response, perfectly understanding endless questions such as "What's the weather like?" or "Play music on Youtube". This allows a natural and fluid communication with the user, and facilitates the interaction of this with the device.
A very positive aspect is that it is able to identify up to six different voices. These voice profiles are stored on the device, and allow the user to give personalized responses, such as today's appointments from the user's personal agenda. In addition, the device has been able to identify the user even with voice alterations, with background noise and with a low voice, regardless of which direction the voice came from in relation to the microphones.
Another important aspect to take into account is the response time, which is the time between when the user finishes giving the order and the time in which the device performs the action. In general, this time is acceptable, and may be slowed down by the speed of the Internet connection.
Connecting a device to the Google Nest Hub can be a complex procedure. The first thing to do is install the application corresponding to the device, in order to configure it. In this analysis, two devices have been used, a smart LED strip and a smart plug. The device configuration procedure will be more or less complex depending on how the manufacturer has designed the application. However, once the smart device is configured, it is still necessary to associate it with the Google Nest Hub, a procedure that is done by first assigning the device to a house and then allowing Google Home to locate it. Therefore, it is a complex and lengthy procedure that can be difficult for certain groups.
In relation to the supported verbal commands, these depend on the type of device and those that have been implemented for it by the manufacturer. . Thus, the smart LED strip allows you to change the color, brightness and mode (fixed, flashing, etc.), as well as turn it on or off. The device comes with a remote control that allows you to change all of this. However, by means of verbal commands you can only change the color of the led, the brightness and turn it off and on, making it impossible to change the mode. For its part, the plug only allows two verbal commands, off and on.
To activate the accessibility options, you have to use the Google Home application, locate the device, in this case the Google Nest hub, and activate the accessibility in its configuration options. It should be noted that the accessibility menu is too hidden in the application, and that it would be convenient if it had a form of activation from the device itself.
People with visual functional diversity
As for assistive technologies for this group, the Google Nest Hub has the possibility of activating a screen reader, expanding the screen or inverting the colors. However, the screen reader and amplification cannot be activated simultaneously. In addition, the screen reader verbalizes the type of elements (button, window, etc.) in English, even if Spanish is selected as the language, as well as that it is easily blocked, requiring its reactivation from the mobile application.
Regarding accessibility problems, during the device initialization process the screen reader cannot be activated, so it is not possible to verify a code that appears on the device screen and that must match the one that appears on the screen. mobile app. Also, the Account menu moves automatically when reading using VoiceOver on IOS. It has also been found that the microphone tab in IOS seems to block the VoiceOver screen reader, leaving you speechless and without any reaction.
People with hearing functional diversity
This group may be unable to handle these devices, since they present various accessibility barriers.
First, the device does not have an alternative to voice commands, that is, commands cannot be entered using an on-screen keyboard, which would allow interaction with the device by people with speech problems.
As an accessibility option, subtitles can be activated on the screen, which facilitates use by people with hearing disabilities. Despite this, the handling of this device by this group may be inaccessible since the subtitles remain on the screen for a very short time, disappearing even before the assistant's voice finishes speaking. The only thing that can be configured of them is the color of the subtitles and the size of the letter.
People with physical functional diversity
This group of people can be greatly benefited by virtual assistants, since they allow them to handle a large number of devices without having to move from the site or without having to interact with them physically. However, there are some accessibility issues that are detailed below.
First, the smart device installation and configuration process requires some mobility. Placing the device in its place may require the assistance of a person without physical restrictions, as well as the configuration of the device, which must be done from the application for Android or IOS.
On the other hand, some actions require some kind of interaction with the Google Nest Hub's touch screen. This means that those people who have disabled physical interaction with any device cannot use this system.
To the above, it must be added that the configuration of smart devices must be done from the Application itself. This can make the system difficult for some people in this group to operate.
People with intellectual or mental functional diversity
There is no type of adaptation for this group of people, although this is not a reason why they cannot use it. Here the possibility of use is fundamentally determined by the ability of the individual to handle electronic devices.
By being able to use natural language, it may be easy to understand and handle by people with some type of intellectual disability. In addition, the answers are expressed in an easy-to-understand natural language. For its part, the handling of smart devices, once configured, is quite simple, so their handling should not present many problems.
Older people can be affected by visual, hearing, physical problems, and even memory loss. Using a device like the Google Nest Hub can benefit them by making it easier for them to use household appliances. Although it is true that the configuration of these devices can be somewhat complex, and may require the intervention of a third party for their initialization, once configured they can be a great help.
These people when interacting with the Google Nest Hub will have few problems since it is controlled by voice with verbal commands in natural language, in addition to that the responses are also transmitted in an easy to understand natural language. The only problems that may arise are in relation to the oral transmission of the response, since the subtitles, as already indicated, have a short duration on the screen, as well as that sometimes it is necessary to physically interact with the screen of the device, which which can be an accessibility barrier for people with reduced mobility.
In this section an analysis is carried out from the user's point of view, with the aim of evaluating the degree of satisfaction that occurs when interacting with the device. We must also take into account how useful and manageable the Google Home application is since the configuration of the devices, including that of the Google Nest Home itself, is done from it. The applications necessary to configure smart devices will not be taken into account, since it is not the object of study of this review, although they may be mentioned at some point.
Also in this section, the benefits that the use of the Google Nest Hub, together with the use of smart devices, bring to different groups are analyzed. Both the advantages and the disadvantages for the different groups will be studied, and the main benefits of using the Google Nest Hub will be seen.
The first thing to take into account is the Google Nest Hub configuration process, which, as indicated, is too long a procedure, and which must be done from the application. This can be somewhat uncomfortable for certain groups. Also, as described, it has some accessibility issues that can make it inaccessible for certain people.
The least positive aspects of the application are in relation to the configuration of the device itself. Some menu options are highly hidden and difficult to locate. In addition, there are buttons that have the same name, such as the "Add" buttons. This can confuse the user since the names do not clearly identify what exactly they refer to, although their function can be intuited from the position they occupy in the interface.
In relation to the Google Nest Hub, it presents a screen through which the fingers slide well. The volume buttons are easily accessible and hidden from view, although they are not necessary to raise and lower the volume, since it can be done by voice. The switch to connect and disconnect the microphones slides easily, although as it is a physical element it will always be inaccessible for people who cannot physically interact with the device.
In general, the oral interaction with the device is good, being able to carry out a large number of consultations and actions with it. However, it is not possible to extend its functionality, limiting itself to answering questions, playing multimedia content and operating smart devices.
As for the interaction with the touch screen, it is very comfortable for people who do not need a screen reader, although sometimes it seems that the system gets caught, which may be due to the internet connection. However, the interaction using a screen reader is not so satisfactory since the type of the elements says it in English, since sometimes it gets stuck being necessary to restart the reader from the mobile application.
As for the handling of smart devices, it is quite easy and intuitive. However, the verbal commands available depend on the product and the manufacturer, and not all options for operating the devices are always available.
Usefulness, advantages and disadvantages
The Google Nest hubb can provide different benefits to different groups as explained below:
- Easy to use. It allows you to easily perform tasks that would otherwise be more complex, such as consulting the meaning of a word to a person with visual impairment or performing mathematical calculations for a person who cannot handle a calculator.
- Entertainment. It is not a specific function for a group, but it serves as a leisure tool and helps to combat loneliness or monotony, which can be beneficial for the elderly or people with reduced mobility.
- Intercom. This device can be used to transmit messages between devices or users. This is a good tool for people who cannot move and have to communicate with other members of the household who are not in the same room.
- Home automation. It is one of the most useful and important functions, since it allows people with physical functional diversity to control the house independently or that people with visual disabilities can operate devices that would otherwise be inaccessible. In addition, for older people it can be very useful since it facilitates the handling of household devices.
- Routines. This function allows you to concatenate several actions in a row that are performed consecutively on a regular basis. It is not a specific function for a group, but it can be of great interest since it simplifies the performance of these activities with a single voice command or by scheduling.
The Google Nest Hub allows you to easily operate smart devices using voice commands, as well as play multimedia content and answer a wide variety of questions, including mathematical operations. In addition, it has a pleasant and comfortable touch screen, with a neat interface.
The sound pickup through the microphones is very good, recognizing the user even with background noise and at a distance. Also, the speakers have a good sound both in multimedia content playback and in the output of the assistant's voice.
For its part, the interaction is good, with adequate response times and good recognition of user requests. Also, the answers provided are usually correct.
However, the device presents various accessibility problems that can make it unusable for everyone. Setting up the Google Nest Hub, as well as smart devices, are lengthy processes that can be difficult for certain users. Likewise, the accessibility options of the device are not yet perfected, and the handling of the system may be somewhat uncomfortable for people with visual, communication and physical problems.
- Touch screen with good resolution
- Microphones with good sound pickup.
- Easy handling of smart devices.
- Correct answers and with good reaction time.
- One could suggest simplifying the configuration process.
- Improving accessibility in the initial configuration could be studied in future versions.
- Improvement of the screen reader may be suggested in future versions.
- It may be suggested that the length adjustment of the subtitles be allowed.
- The possibility of installing applications on the device could be studied.