Google Nest Hub review: Radar-scanning sleep device is the ultimate bedfellow

The Google Nest Hub gives you an at-a-glance dashboard for your digital life (

Google’s new Nest Hub arrives with a very interesting proposition: it will use radar technology to scan you during the night and provide handy feedback on how you slept.

The company’s earlier Home Hub became a popular bedside companion because, unlike other smart displays, it didn’t have a camera on board.

Google says that it has received a lot of feedback over the last year from people who want to use tech to improve their sleep. But they may not necessarily want to go to bed every night wearing a Fitbit or Apple Watch to do so.

Google’s answer is to revisit the Soli radar technology that it used in 2019’s Pixel 4 smartphone to create a way of analysing sleep that doesn’t require the user to wear anything to bed.

Google explained the new Google Nest uses ‘millimeter-wave frequency-modulated continuous wave (FMCW) radar transceiver that emits an ultra-low power radio wave and measures the reflected signal from the scene of interest.

It’s designed to be positioned right next to your bed (Google)

‘The frequency spectrum of the reflected signal contains an aggregate representation of the distance and velocity of objects within the scene. This signal can be processed to isolate a specified range of interest, such as a user’s sleeping area, and to detect and characterize a wide range of motions within this region, ranging from large body movements to sub-centimeter respiration.’

What the Soli radar inside the Nest Hub records while you’re sleeping (Google)

Essentially, it pings your sleeping form with radar waves to determine how much you move and records audio to determine what your breathing is doing during the night. Using algorithms, the software then analyses this information to give you detailed feedback about the quality of your sleep. Every morning, users will get a ‘sleep summary’ of how they fared the night before.

If you’re a little unsure of having a bedside clock scan you while you’re sleeping, rest easy. The entire feature – called Sleep Sensing – is entirely opt-in.

You get a Sleep Summary each morning (Google)

To set it up, you switch on the Nest Hub and grant it the usual permissions, then you position the device and lie on the bed so it can calibrate. It has to be level with the mattress and can’t have anything obscuring the view.

Once set up, you leave it to do its thing. A small icon appears in the corner of the screen to let you know when Sleep Sensing is active.

I was sceptical, but it turned out to be pretty accurate. The Nest Hub clocked the exact time I went to bed and got up the next morning and provided me some detailed feedback on the little 7-inch display.

After a night of being scanned by the Nest Hub, I was given a breakdown on how I slept (

It also gave me the information in the Google Fit app on my phone when I gave it permission.

You get a fuller breakdown in the Google Fit app, which can connect to the Nest Hub through your account (

The data isn’t as accurate as, say a Fitbit Sense, which is monitoring your heart rate while you sleep and giving you in-depth analytics such as sleep stages and SPo2 levels. But considering the Nest Hub offers a decent level of insight without you having to wear any kind of sensors on your body is pretty remarkable.

Google may even decide to add more functionality and better insights down the road. Considering it now owns Fitbit, and the vast amount of sleep data that comes with it, we could see some interesting convergence in the future.

There’s an ambient light sensor on board and you can also set the screen to gradually brighten as an alarm gets louder to wake you up gradually as the day starts.

Aside from the sleep tracking, the Nest Hub features very well as a smart display that can play music, read you the news, answer Google queries and control other devices around the home.

The display is just the right size to give you all the information you need at a glance without being intrusive. And it doubles up as a digital photo frame when not in use.

The display doubles as a digital photo frame when not in use (

There’s a 50% boost in bass from the earlier model and you can also use the radar tracking tech to control the device with gestures in the air in front of it. This seems a bit pointless to me as I pretty much always just used my voice.

The Nest Hub can also be attached to other Google Home/Nest speakers for multi-room audio. And while it doesn’t compete with Sonos on sound quality, it does for affordability. The Hub is controlled through the Google Home app on your phone and you can set up unique shortcuts that Google calls ‘Routines’. For example, say ‘good morning’ and you can have it fire up with a news bulletin and the best route to work.

It can recognise multiple users. So if you and your significant other have separate Google accounts with calendars, it’ll know to put your events on yours rather than theirs.

Finally, the Google Nest Hub has a much friendlier price tag than its predecessor. It’s available for £89.99 compared to the £139 that the original Google Home Hub launched at.

All the major streaming services are supported on the Nest Hub (Google)

If your house falls into the Nest camp, rather than the Alexa or Apple ecosystem, then there’s a lot to like about the new Nest Hub.

If you’ve got the original then I wouldn’t suggest upgrading unless you’re desperate to use the sleep tracking. But if you’re new to smart devices and would prefer Google over Amazon’s Echo Show devices, then this is the one to go for. Whether or not you decide to have it next to your bed each night.

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