This smart display is a sleep-tracking bedside companion

·2-min read
The second-generation Google Nest Hub is capable of analyzing sleep quality.

Google is launching its second-generation Nest Hub. This compact smart display is easy to transport around the house and stands out with a new Sleep Sensing function, based on technology that detects and analyzes movement during the night. Simply place the device nearby before hitting the hay to get feedback on sleep quality.

The Nest Hub doesn't have an onboard camera, and it can't film you while you sleep. Instead, it uses Google's Motion Sense technology -- powered by Soli low-energy radar technology -- to analyze how the person closest to the display is sleeping, based on their movement and breathing.

Soli is a radar-based gesture recognition system that uses tiny sensors to analyze gestures with unprecedented precision. It was first rolled out in 2019 in the Pixel 4 smartphone, before being dropped in the Pixel 5.

The Nest Hub can analyze and report on the user's movement and breathing during the night. With the help of a built-in microphone, the sleep-tracking tool can detect various nighttime disturbances, such as snoring and coughing. Finally, light and temperature sensors can identify times when there's too much light or the temperature could be uncomfortable.

When morning comes, the screen displays a personalized summary of the user's night. But that's not all, since the Sleep Sensing function offers customized advice, particularly after several disturbed nights.

Evidently, this function is optional and can be switched off at any time. In the interest of transparency, Google explains that Motion Sense only detects movement, not specific bodies or faces. The firm also states that audio data is only processed at device level and is not sent to remote servers.

The new Google Nest Hub can even help users fall asleep and wake up more easily by changing the screen brightness.

As well as sleep tracking, the Nest Hub functions as a smart speaker, whether for interacting with Google Assistant or for listening to music. Plus, the device's 7-inch screen can be used to enjoy video-on-demand services. Thanks to gesture commands, users can launch or pause content playback simply by passing a hand in front of the screen. Finally, the new Nest Hub can be used to control other compatible connected devices.

The new Nest Hub is already available to preorder in the US, Germany, Australia, Canada, the UK and France priced at US$99.99. The launch comes just a few days before World Sleep Day, Friday, March 19, 2021.

David Bénard