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How Nest cameras detect sound and motion

Google Nest Cams, Nest Hello video doorbell, and Nest Hub Max look for changes in sound and motion so they know when to notify you of activity.

When you add a Nest Aware subscription, your camera uses advanced, cloud-based algorithms to pick out different kinds of activity. This makes the alerts you receive to your phone, tablet, or email even more helpful.

Depending on which Nest Aware subscription you have, your camera will record and store either event-based video history or 24/7 video history in the Nest app. You can view activity your camera detects in the Nest app’s Sightline and event history.

You can also view camera events in the Home app’s Feed and History.

Basic motion and sound detection on all cameras

Before your camera can detect activity, it first needs to figure out what everything in the scene looks like when there’s no activity. That way it can tell when something in the scene changes, like when someone walks into its view.

It can also pick up unexpected noises like when your dog barks. The software will try to ignore background noise like the steady hum of a fan so that your camera only sends alerts when something notable happens.

Without a Nest Aware subscription, your camera doesn’t use Nest’s advanced cloud-based algorithms to fine-tune its motion and sound detection.

How Nest Aware improves sound and motion detection

With a Nest Aware subscription, your Nest camera’s sound and motion detection receives the following improvements:

  • More accurate alerts about motion and sound
  • Fewer false alerts from things like light, shadows, and branches
  • Activity Zones to get notifications about motion in certain areas, like a pathway or door

The advanced sound and motion detection that comes with a Nest Aware subscription requires a lot of computing power. When your camera’s video streams to Nest’s cloud servers, our software can look for different kinds of activity. The cloud servers let us easily update and refine Nest Aware activity detection over time, while keeping your data private and secure.

For more information about how we keep your data private and secure, read the following:

Motion detection improvements

Nest Aware algorithms use motion pattern, shape, and texture recognition of what’s moving so that your camera can do the following: 

  • Notice small things and things that are far away, like when a kitten runs across the other side of a large room.
  • Detect fast things, like when someone runs past a doorway or window.
  • Reduce false alerts. For example, you probably won’t get a notification if your camera sees tree branches swaying in the wind.
  • Look for certain kinds of activity and send an alert. For example, when your camera detects someone walking into its view, it can send a person alert. Some Nest cameras can even detect familiar faces.

Sound detection improvements

  • Nest Aware algorithms measure ambient audio levels and filter out any regular noise in the area (like a running air conditioner). That way, they can notice fluctuations in noise and determine if an important audio event has occurred, like a boom or the crash of a window breaking.
  • Nest cameras can pick out specific types of sounds and alert you when a sound occurs. For example, you can set up notifications so your camera sends an alert when it detects a dog barking or a person speaking, but not bother you when it senses other noises.
  • Sound detection is also upgraded to be more sensitive, so normal conversation is picked up as an activity event.
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