Google’s Nest Develops Feature to Track Sleep Patterns

March 16, 2021
Google Nest Track Sleep Patterns

By Ahmed Rahma

Google’s Nest unit is expanding into health technology with a feature that tracks sleep patterns, offering a potential new revenue stream but also raising privacy concerns.

The company unveiled the second-generation model of its Nest Hub smart display in a blog post on Tuesday, and this time it comes with a function called Sleep Sensing that monitors the breathing and movement of a person sleeping next to the screen without a camera or needing to wear a device in bed.

The system also detects disturbances such as coughing and snoring, along with light and temperature changes using Nest Hub’s built-in microphones and ambient light and temperature sensors. Over time, it learns the user’s sleep patterns and gives personalized recommendations, Bloomberg reported.

According to a senior product manager at Google Nest, Ashton Udall, Sleep Sensing will be available as a free preview until next year. That suggests the company may begin charging for the service in the future.

Reports say that Nest was a pioneer in so-called smart home technology through its internet-connected thermostat.

Google acquired the company for $3.2 billion in 2014. Since then, Nest struggled with some new product launches, lost its founders and dealt with recurring privacy questions.

On Tuesday, the internet giant addressed the privacy implications of Nest’s new sleep-sensing feature. The system relies on a low-energy radar technology called Soli to do the tracking, but it can be disabled.

Nest Hub detects disturbances such as coughing and snoring, along with light and temperature changes, said the tech giant.

Audio of users’ snores and coughs will be processed on the Nest Hub device rather than being sent to Google’s servers. There’s even a hardware switch that physically disables the microphone. Users can also review and delete their sleep data at any time, and Google stressed that the information isn’t used for personalized ads.

Google, Inc. and Apple Inc. have developed smart displays and speakers to expand their platforms further into consumers’ homes and lives.

Fresh off its acquisition of Fitbit Inc., which makes wearable health devices, Google is also making a stronger effort to commercialize years of research it’s done on human health. The company said it will look for ways to integrate Nest with Fitbit’s sleep-tracking features in the future.

Rahma Ahmed

Ahmed Rahma is a journalist with great interest in arts and craft. She is also a foodie who loves new ideas. She loves to travel and would love to visit other African countries someday. She is a sucker for historical movies and afrobeat.

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