Nest Hub: Google wants to bring its virtual assistant to the bedside table to help you sleep better

Technologies

By CAPosts 06 April, 2021 - 10:49pm

Nest Hub by Google.Google

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society indicate that adults should sleep at least seven hours or more per night on a regular basis to promote optimal health. That is, a person should spend about a third of his life asleep. More and more wearables are monitoring sleep. These are usually watches, bracelets or even pajamas that the user wears and takes with him to bed. But Google goes one step further with its new virtual assistant with a screen. The second-generation Nest Hub, presented this Wednesday in Spain, is designed to analyze how a person sleeps based on their movement and breathing.

The device, which will be available from May 5 in chalk and charcoal for 99.99 euros, has a design very similar to its predecessor. It has a seven-inch screen that allows you to view photos on Google Photos, view video clips or recipes on YouTube, or play movies from platforms such as Netflix or Disney +. The device is also designed to consult the agenda, set timers and create reminders.

But if there is something different from its predecessor, it is because it includes sensors to monitor sleep. Google claims to have registered an increasing number of queries in its search engine about exercise, health and sleep in recent years. More and more tech giants are launching smart bracelets and watches that monitor how the user rests. 25% of adults now have a device of this type, according to a report by GSMA Intelligence .

“In recent years, sleep monitors have become a very popular device, but we wanted to offer an alternative to people who want to know how they sleep without having to take a device to bed, "explains Ashton Udall, product manager at Google Nest. 20% of users with a Nest Hub have it placed in their room, according to the Mountain View company.

The new assistant uses Motion Sense technology to analyze how the person closest to the screen sleeps based on their movements and your breathing. To do this, it incorporates Soli sensors. These are small miniature radars that, according to Google, can detect body movements. Udall further assures that the assistant "can detect sleep disturbances, such as coughing and snoring, or changes in light and temperature in the room with the built-in microphones and light and ambient temperature sensors."

The Nest Hub can display on the screen a summary of the dream. It is also possible to consult the information by asking "hey google, how did I sleep tonight?" or through the Google Fit app. The objective is to analyze what factors may be affecting the user's sleep. In fact, the assistant, in addition to offering you information on how you sleep, theoretically also gives you some personalized advice and suggestions to improve your rest. For example, it indicates adapted schedules. The guidelines, according to Google, have been developed by a team of sleep scientists and taking into account the guidance of entities such as the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

More than a third of American adults do not get enough sleep on a regular basis, according to a study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Poor sleep can have negative health consequences, as explained by Johns Hopkins University. For example, according to this entity, it can affect the immune system or mood and could even increase the risk of heart disease. We will still have to wait to see to what extent the sleep monitoring of the new Google assistant is or not and if its recommendations are useful to sleep better. Although this function will be available at no additional cost for the time being, Google considers it possible that from next year “a paid subscription is required.”

Does anyone listen while you sleep?

Having a device listening while sleeping —or not— can cause certain reluctance. Especially considering that various experts in data protection and artificial intelligence warn about the possible consequences related to privacy of having a multitude of objects and devices at home connected to the Internet. In addition, it would not be the first time that assistants of this type with a microphone have been activated by mistake .

Google claims that the sleep sensor function is totally optional. "It is you who decides if you want to enable it or not, and a visual indicator on the screen tells you if it is activated," he says. The company claims that Motion Sense technology only detects movement, not specific faces or bodies, and the cough and snoring audio data "is only processed on the device and is not sent to Google's servers." In addition, the device, like its predecessor, has a physical switch designed to disable the microphone at any time. Google indicates that the user can review or delete their sleep data and ensures that it will not use it “for personalized ads.”

More bass, gesture control and smart home

Mountain View company promises better sound. The new speaker has 50% more bass than its predecessor. Also, now the user can control it with gestures. That is, without having to touch the Nest Hub. By bringing your hand closer to the screen, you can pause or play content. This a priori function could be useful for example while cooking or if you want to snooze an alarm. The technology giant has opted in recent years for gesture control on different devices. For example, some of its Pixel phones allow you to slide your hand over the terminal to the left or right to change songs.

In addition, the Nest Hub is also designed to control smart home devices. The user can turn on the lights, lock the doors or raise the thermostat by simply asking the assistant or by tapping the screen. "Hey Google, show me the camera at the front door", would be one of the orders that could be pronounced to see images in real time. The device also allows you to send messages to be played by other Google speakers at home.

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Source: Elpais

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