Google Nest Hub teases radar tech as the future of smart home privacy

The recent announcement of the Google Nest Hub (2nd Gen) introduces the novel concept of how radar-sensing technology can be leveraged by smart home devices to achieve a number of things — such as monitoring the way someone sleeps at night, without the use of an actual camera. Often, it’s perceived that a camera is necessary in tracking or monitoring activity, such as a traditional home security camera, but the future of radar tech makes for some intriguing, practical applications.

How do you feel when you sit in front of a security camera? For most people, it causes a sense of discomfort. The thought of being watched, whether you truly are or not, is unsettling. Home security cameras provide peace of mind, but they can also be uncomfortable — and for good reason.

Numerous incidents have proven that smart home security devices are vulnerable in the absence of proper precautions. Two-factor authentication and recommended password practices make it significantly harder for someone to gain access to your home security camera without permission, but the risk of hackers is always present. Someone could watch you through the lens of your security camera, unless you remove the lens.

Xandar Kardian is a CES Innovation Award Recipient. The company focuses on radar-based technology that can render modern motion detectors all but obsolete. More importantly, it could potentially shape the future of privacy within the smart home.

Improved security with less motion

Motion sensors aren’t incredibly sensitive. A small amount of motion won’t trigger it. Think about it: Hotels often use motion sensors to trigger the lights in a bathroom. If you’ve ever been in a hotel and taken a long shower, the bathroom light will often go off — and the sensor is outside the shower, so you’re stuck in the dark until you step out.

Xandar Kardian has introduced the potential of radar technology in the home that can “see”the occupant of a space without actually seeing them. The technology is able to measure heart rate and respiration with almost medical-grade accuracy, and it uses A.I. to measure how many people are within a space, whether they are awake or asleep, and to gauge other important data.

Why does this matter? Aside from the obvious implications of this sort of technology, smart home security can improve and become even more secure. For example, the radar technology can measure how many people are in a room based on far more sensitive and accurate information than just motion. A camera can still be used to capture someone’s face, but the radar can act as a sort of fail-safe — a way of knowing with absolute certainty that someone is in the home that shouldn’t be there.

Better smart home technology

The applications do not stop at home security. With the level of accuracy this radar-based technology could provide, smart homes can become even smarter. While devices are already capable of sensing quite a bit about the occupant of a room, there are some things they just can’t do.

Imagine this: You’re watching TV on the couch and fall asleep. Many people enjoy a night or two on the couch from time to time, so there’s no need to wake you — but the noise of the TV, the thermostat, and other factors can impede your ability to get a good night’s rest. When the system detects that you have fallen asleep, it could be programmed to automatically lower the volume of the television, turn off the lights, and drop the temperature in the room to one more conducive for a good night’s rest.

This technology has the potential to improve the way smart home technology works and interacts on a base level.

Monitor occupants’ safety monitored

Xandar Kardian’s technology goes beyond just smart home applications. Hotels can put the technology to use to improve electrical efficiency within rooms. If an occupant isn’t in the room, then the thermostat can be turned down (or up, depending on the season) to save energy, lights can be turned off, and more.

In short-term or vacation rentals with strict rules, this technology can help owners keep track of exactly how many people are in an area. If you have rules against throwing parties at your rental property, you can know how many people are in the space without seeing them — and without invading the renter’s privacy.

The health-monitoring applications of the radar tech are equally impressive. In nursing homes, measuring a resident’s breathing and heart rate can serve as an early alert system for health crises before they worsen. It’s reasonable to assume that the sensitivity of the radar can be adjusted on a case-by-case basis, so residents at particular risk for cardiovascular issues can be placed in rooms set up to monitor and raise an alarm if the resident’s pulse or breathing moves out of safe ranges.

If placed inside cars, the technology can alert drivers if they demonstrate signs of fatigue or anything else that might place them at risk on the roads.

Xandar Kardian’s innovation could be the future of not just the smart home, but health monitoring in general. Although devices already exist that monitor vital signs, they require wearable devices. Think of the Apple Watch or a Fitbit, for instance. Technology that doesn’t require wearables and can serve the same purpose holds a lot of potential for the future.

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