Alexa may be poised to match the sleep-sensing ability of Google’s Nest Hub smart display, with the FCC giving Amazon a waiver for a radar that could monitor the breathing of slumbering users.
Bloomberg reports that the FCC granted Amazon permission last week to proceed with a “radar sensor” that could “enable contactless sleep tracing functionalities.”
The proposed “sleep tracking” radar “could improve awareness and management of sleep hygiene, which in turn could produce significant health benefits for many Americans,” Amazon’s FCC filing reads.
While the Amazon filing doesn’t go into much detail about the radar or in what kinds of devices it could be used, it’s easy to imagine the sensor appearing in an Alexa-powered Echo Show smart display. One fact that is in the filing is that the radar would not be for a mobile device.
Google already has a smart display with contactless sleep-sending abilities: the Google Nest Hub.
Powered by a tiny, built-in radar—sound familiar?—the Nest Hub can actually sense your breathing as you slumber, and it’ll give you detailed reports about your sleep history and quality.
The Nest Hub’s sleep-tracking capabilities are powered by Google’s Soli chip, which also handles presence-sensing duties on both the Nest Hub and its bigger sibling, the 10-inch Nest Hub Max.
Contactless sleep sensing via radar makes for an attractive alternative to a wearable fitness tracker, such as those made by Google-owned Fitbit. While you must remember to wear a Fitbit to bed to keep tabs on your sleeping habits, a sleep-sensing display like the Nest Hub can track sleep without the using having to bother with a wearable.
Like Google, Amazon has its own sleep-tracking wristband: the Halo Band, which can also monitor your steps and heart rate.
Reached for comment, an Amazon rep said the company has "nothing we’re able to share at this time."
Updated on July 13, 2021 with a comment from Amazon.