Google’s Nest Adds Sleep Tracking in New Health Tech Foray

Google’s Nest unit is expanding into health technology with a feature that tracks sleep patterns, offering a potential new revenue stream but also raising privacy concerns.

The company unveiled the second-generation model of its Nest Hub smart display in a blog post Tuesday, and this time it comes with a function called Sleep Sensing that monitors the breathing and movement of a person sleeping next to the screen — without a camera or needing to wear a device in bed.

The system also detects disturbances such as coughing and snoring, along with light and temperature changes using the Nest Hub’s built-in microphones and ambient light and temperature sensors. Over time, it learns the user’s sleep patterns and gives personalized recommendations.

Ashton Udall, a senior product manager at Google Nest, said Sleep Sensing will be available as a free preview until next year. That suggests the company may begin charging for the service in the future.

Fresh off its acquisition of Fitbit Inc., which makes wearable health devices, Google is also making a stronger effort to commercialize years of research it’s done on human health. The company said it will look for ways to integrate Nest with Fitbit’s sleep-tracking features in the future.