The new Google Nest Hub tracks your sleep from the side of your bed
The new, second-generation Google Nest Hub is here, with one big change from its 2018 predecessor: it can track your sleeping patterns from a bedside table, with no wires or wearables required, besides offering all the smarts of Google Assistant.
Sleep monitoring is made possible by the same Motion Sense technology that we've seen before in the Pixel 4 and other Google devices. It uses low-energy radar technology called Soli to track movement wirelessly, so the Nest Hub can see how you're moving and breathing. Other sensors pick up sounds such as coughing and snoring, and record the light and temperature in the room, for a more rounded picture of your sleep.
"We know people already come to Google for information and tools to help them live healthier, happier lives, and we’ve specifically noticed more and more questions about sleep, exercise and health," writes Google Nest Product Manager Ashton Udall in a blog post announcing the new device. "We wanted to offer an alternative way for people who may not want to wear something to bed to understand their sleep."
As well as tracking your sleep, the new smart display will give you recommendations about how to improve it, which Google says are backed by scientific research and experts in the field. All this data will be fed back to Google Fit, and eventually your Fitbit profile (Google now owns Fitbit).
On the privacy side, none of your sleep data is used for personalized ads, and recorded audio data is only processed on the device itself. Google says you'll be able to view and delete the sleep data that's been recorded at any time, and it is completely optional – you don't have to use the feature if you don't want to.
The Sleep Sensing features are apparently going to be "available as a free preview until next year" as per Google – so it sounds as though there might eventually be a rolling fee for the more advanced sleep tracking and analysis functions.
There are a few more improvements over the older Google Nest Hub, which was originally called the Google Home Hub when it launched. Audio performance has been enhanced, using what Google has learned from the Nest Audio speaker, so the smart display should sound better as an all-purpose speaker.
As well as touchscreen controls, the new Nest Hub supports gestures for managing playback, thanks to the Motion Sense tech we've already mentioned: just hold your hand up to the screen, and playback will stop, for example.
This smart display also joins the Nest Audio and the Nest Mini speaker in having an on-device learning chip that takes care of some Google Assistant requests without having to ping Google's cloud servers first – leading to a more fluid and faster user experience, in theory.
Otherwise it's much the same as the previous Google Nest Hub and the Google Nest Hub Max, with Google Assistant at your call to answer questions on everything from the weather forecast to how your schedule is looking. Like the first Nest Hub, there's a 7-inch, 1024 x 600 pixel display and no forward facing camera (you need the Nest Hub Max for that).
The second-generation Google Nest Hub is available to pre-order now for US$99.99, with shipping scheduled for March 30th. Your color choices for the fabric around the speaker base are Chalk (gray), Charcoal (black), Sand (pink-ish) and Mist (blue-ish).
Google has put together a video showing off the new Sleep Sensing features, which you can see below.
Product page: Google Nest Hub