Google’s next Nest Hub could use radar to track your sleep, and I have questions

Earlier this week, we reported that Google could be working on an updated Nest Hub that had Soli technology, and a report from 9to5Google now suggests that it could be for something unexpected: sleep tracking.

If you aren’t familiar, Soli is Google’s radar technology used to detect gestures and human presence. It was first introduced in the Pixel 4 (which was discontinued in August), and while it isn’t in any of Google’s current Pixel devices, it’s now showing up in smart home devices, like the Nest Thermostat.

So there is precedent for Google including the tech in its smart home devices. And the Nest Hub already looks a bit like an alarm clock, and because it doesn’t have a camera built-in, it may be more accepted into the bedroom for sleep tracking. But I still have a couple of questions about how it might work.

As almost every sleep aid commercial points out, we all sleep differently. So far, Soli has been pretty short range, so what happens if you roll over to the other side of the bed? Is it going to lose track of you? What if you have a pet who likes to come and lay by (or on) your head? Will it start tracking their movement instead?

There’s also the problem of nightstands. Those who do own nightstands may have them in totally different places in relation to where they sleep, and some may not have them at all. So far, Soli has only been used directionally, so it’s unclear how Google would handle having to deal with detecting movement and presence at a variety of angles and distances.

Perhaps Google will surprise us and have this all figured out when they announce the product, or maybe sleep tracking will only work under certain circumstances. Despite my questions, though, I think there are a lot of other ways in which having motion controls in an alarm clock makes sense.

I’m not necessarily able to coherently speak when I first wake up, so being able to, as my coworker suggested, wildly wave my hand at the Nest Hub to turn off an alarm would be a neat trick. People who wake up to music could also wave to skip a song if the one that comes on isn’t how they want to start their day.

If all this sounds intriguing to you, the 9to5Google report says that the Soli-enabled Nest Hub should come at some point this year. The FCC filings that hit this week could also indicate that the product may be coming soon. While they don’t always guarantee that a product will be released, we do sometimes see them before official product announcements.

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