In a blog post today, Google detailed several new enhancements to its Sleep Sensing technology built into the 2nd generation Nest Hub via Project Soli. Having better insights into your rest habits like whether you snore, cough, or sleep uncomfortably is useful, and even free at this time through the device, but will soon become paid as a part of the Fitbit Premium subscription.
Regarding the Hub, improved algorithms that have recently been implemented by the Google AI team mean that Sleep Staging is coming to your display. Information about your sleep quality – whether it’s light or deep – REM and awake periods through the night, and more means you’ll have a greater understanding of what’s happening when you’re knocked out and your smart display is
watching sensing you sleep.
Sound detection is also getting an update. If you or your partner coughs or snores within your calibrated sleep area will still be detected and reported on your display, but any sounds that occur outside of that area will be reported as “Other sounds” with their own timeline. This is just an example – other sounds will be reported as well.
Next month, Google Assistant on Nest displays will offer Calm, a leading sleep app that offers meditation and relaxation using a library of Sleep Stories, music, and more. To access it when December rolls around, just say “Hey Google, show me meditations from Calm”, or “Hey Google, start a meditation.” It’s likely that this new service on your Hub will not be something you’ve tinkered with before, so I’m going to assume most of you don’t have a premium subscription to it. If you did, you’d get access to the whole library it offers, but for everyone else, you’ll at least have a few free tracks.
This all sounds pretty great, right? Well, what if I told you it would cost you ten bucks per month? Not so bad, right? What about $80 per year? That’s a lot to track my sleep. I honestly can’t imagine that these sleep patterns will provide much insight into habits I can change or fix, and even if they did, eighty bucks is kind of a lot, but maybe that’s just me. To be fair, that price includes loads of benefits with your Fitbit smartwatch, if you have one, including blood glucose trends, stress management tools, wellness reports, workouts, mindfulness sessions, and more. As I previously mentioned, Google – which now owns Fitbit – is bundling in Sleep Sensing and all of its benefits with Nest Hub as a part of that Fitbit Premium cost.
Ultimately, you’ll have to decide for yourself if sleep tracking and other wellness benefits like those mentioned are important enough to you that you’re willing to shell out almost a hundred bucks annually. For many, this isn’t a lot of money when put into perspective of how long it takes to earn that much for the average hourly wage, at least in the U.S. (that’s all I can speak to!), but I can personally think of many more valuable things to spend a hundred bucks on.
You’re probably better off trying out the Sleep Sensing feature trial at no cost through the end of the year until it becomes paid just to get a feel for what’s on offer, and then if the price causes you to lose sleep, leaning into more natural methods like avoiding screens for up to an hour prior to going to bed, separating your phone from your bedroom, and drinking some herbal tea – you know, like we used to do before technology came along and told us that we need it for the basics of life.