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Real Concerns Over New Google Product That Tracks Your Sleep And Sex Activities

CE Retailers in Australia are set to sell a brand-new Google device with built in Soli radar that generates personalised sleep-tracking reports including when you have sex, the device has raised concerns with some observers.

The new Google Nest Hub, which is set to sell for around $149, will track users’ body activity in bed to generate reports using radar-based scanning technology. There is no mention of how safe the technology is, with consumers in the past concerned about charging smartphones next to a bed or using wireless charging as well as the collection of personal data.

There is also concerns that Google is basically collecting data while you sleep and could end up selling or providing the data free to universities, medical companies, or their paying customers.

The Nest Hub detects movement, including coughing and snoring, as well as light and temperature changes.

But the new features have been criticised for collecting data when users are “most vulnerable”.

Privacy is Power author Carissa Véliz asked: “What happens when you have sex?”

Google said the new features had been “built with privacy in mind” and the data collected would not be used to create personalised advertising.

Owners can also choose to disable motion tracking and the microphone – and delete any stored data.

Any information gathered – through movement or audio – is processed locally on the device, but anonymous ‘sleep event data’ is stored on Google’s cloud server.

This includes bedtimes, waketimes, coughing and restfulness.

In an interview with the BBC, Véliz said: “There are many questions that arise.

“What will happen to data about your sleep quality?

“Might it end up in the hands of an insurance company?

“Google gets most of its revenue from the exploitation of personal data.

“Whenever it comes up with a new product, it would be near-sighted to think about it as a product designed for its users.

“It’s only designed for its users to the extent that it can convince people to use the product so that Google can get more data on us.

“Not only are we being heard, tracked, and spied on through our screens, now our bodies will be scanned by Soli.”

Radical Rest author Richard Lister said: “Tech that actively scans movement is not something I feel is useful.

“Our minds look for threat – and being watched while we sleep is a primal one.

“This does not feel safe for me, especially when the levels of anxiety in the current population are heightened.”

Non-invasive technology, such as watches or rings, could be more helpful to monitor sleep, he added.

Nest senior product manager Ashton Udall blogged: “We wanted to offer an alternative way for people who may not want to wear something to bed to understand their sleep.

“A lack of sleep can negatively affect mood, energy, stress, diet, productivity… the list goes on and on.”

Google also said it was aiming to integrate the Nest Hub’s Sleep Sensing features and Fitbit’s sleep analytics, having bought the fitness-tracking company last year.


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