Alphabet Inc’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google Nest unit’s expansion into health technology with a sleep pattern tracking feature unleashed a potential new revenue stream while raising privacy concerns, Bloomberg reports.
What Happened: Alphabet launched the second-generation model of its Nest Hub smart display with a function called Sleep Sensing that tracked the breathing and movement of a person sleeping next to the screen without a camera or an external device.
The system also detected disturbances like coughing and snoring and light and temperature changes using Nest Hub’s built-in microphones and ambient light and temperature sensors. The feature also offered personalized recommendations based on user sleep patterns.
The Sleep Sensing feature would be available as a free preview until 2022, followed by a possible monetization in the future.
Why It Matters: Google acquired Nest, a pioneer in smart home technology through its internet-connected thermostat, for $3.2 billion in 2014. Nest struggled with some new product launches, lost its founders, and dealt with recurring privacy questions since the acquisition.
Alphabet addressed the privacy consequences of Nest’s new sleep-sensing feature on Tuesday. The system relied on a low-energy radar technology called Soli to track and could be disabled via a hardware switch.
Audio of users’ snores and coughs would be processed on the Nest Hub device. Users could review and delete their sleep data at any time. Google assured relief from personalized ads based on such information.
Google was working towards the monetization of its several years of human health research following the acquisition of wearable health device manufacturer Fitbit Inc. Google would continue to explore ways to integrate Nest with Fitbit’s sleep-tracking features in the future.
Price action: GOOG shares traded higher by 1.41% at $2,095.54 on the last check Tuesday.
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