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Familiar face detection

With Nest Aware, you can use familiar face detection1 to teach your Google Nest camera to recognize faces of people that you know, and notify you when it detects people it doesn’t recognize. Over time, facial recognition becomes more accurate at determining familiar faces and can send you more helpful alerts.

You can also manage your familiar faces library to change a person’s name or remove familiar people from the library.

Important: Use familiar face detection in compliance with the law. Depending on where you live, you might need to get consent to have your camera help you identify people who visit your home.

How familiar face detection works

Basics

  • You need a Nest Aware subscription to use familiar face detection.
  • If you turn familiar face detection on, whenever your camera detects a face, the activity is marked in your camera’s recorded video in the Google Home app or Nest app.
  • If your camera has detected an unfamiliar face, the app should ask whether it’s someone you know. You’ll have the option to save the person’s face data in the familiar face library. This helps your camera recognize the face as someone you know. (Note: Check your local privacy laws, and if required, get the person’s permission first before using.)
  • If your camera detects a familiar face, the event in your camera’s video history lets you know who’s been spotted.

Settings and notifications

You can change the following familiar face detection settings in the Home app or Nest app:

  • Turn familiar face detection on or off for each camera.
  • Manage your familiar face library.
  • Enable or disable familiar face alerts.

Sharing the familiar face library

  • Your camera’s faces library and labels are shared with home members (Home app) and people with shared access (Nest app).
  • All members in your household in the app can categorize the faces your camera detects and help make familiar face alerts more accurate.

Note: To change familiar face detection and alert settings, use the app that you set your camera up in. Be sure to connect your phone to the same Wi-Fi network as your camera.

How familiar face detection works with multiple cameras

If you have more than one camera that can use familiar face detection, here’s how they work:

  • You need to turn familiar face detection on or off for each camera individually.
  • If you turn off familiar face detection for one of your cameras, it can only send you person alerts. You should continue to get unfamiliar face alerts from any other cameras that have familiar face detection turned on.
  • All your cameras in the same home share the same familiar face library. If you add a new camera to the same home, it uses the same familiar face library as the other cameras in your home, so you don’t have to teach it as much.
  • If some cameras have a 1st gen Nest Aware subscription but others don’t, you can only use familiar face detection for the cameras with a subscription.

Turn familiar face detection on or off

 

 Home app

  1. Open the Home app .
  2. Tap Settings  and then Nest Aware and then Familiar face detection.
  3. Turn on or off familiar face detection for each camera.

Nest app

  1. Open the Nest app Nest app.
  2. Tap Settings Nest settings icon.
  3. Select Familiar faces.
  4. Turn on or off Familiar face detection for each camera.

Teach your camera which faces are important

Important things to know

When your camera spots a face it doesn’t recognize, or if it’s unsure, it assumes the person is unfamiliar to you and sends notifications that asks whether you know the person.

You can tap the notifications to tell it that this face is familiar and to categorize the face, or you can use one of the methods in the app below.

When you respond to unfamiliar faces in the app, keep in mind:

  • Local laws may require you to get the person’s permission to save their face data first.
  • You might get a lot of unfamiliar face alerts from the Nest app when you first set up familiar face detection.
  • As you continue to identify people over time, your camera uses snapshots of each person’s face to learn what they look like and to better recognize them in the future.
  • For the first couple of weeks, it’s recommended that you review your face library frequently to train the algorithms and help them become more accurate.
  • The Nest app deletes the snapshot of anyone you mark as unknown, and the face isn’t added to your familiar faces library.

Find and categorize unfamiliar faces

Home app

There are a few ways to find and categorize unfamiliar faces in the Home app.

Settings:

  1. Open the Google Home app .
  2. Tap Settings  and then Nest Aware and then Familiar face detection.
  3. If your camera has detected new people, you can tap New faces to find and categorize them.
  4. For each new face, tap Yes, No, or Not a person. Then, follow the on-screen prompts to identify the face.

To find anything you’ve tagged as Not a person, go to Familiar face detection and then tap Options and then Faces that aren’t people.

The Feed:

  1. Open the Google Home app .
  2. Tap the Feed tab.
  3. Choose the unfamiliar face event or group of events.
  4. Tap Add to face library, and then follow the prompts to identify each face your camera didn’t recognize.

Camera event details

  1. Tap the camera event in the Feed or home history.
  2. Once the clip is open, swipe up for more details.
  3. In the “Faces” category, tap Manage, then follow the prompts to identify the faces your camera didn’t recognize.

Nest app

  1. Open the Nest app Nest app.
  2. Select your camera.
  3. At the bottom of your camera’s Sightline, tap People.
  4. If your camera has detected new people, you should be asked whether you know them. Select Yes or No.
    • If your camera misidentifies an object as a face, tap the drop-down menu and select This isn’t a person.
    • Anything you’ve tagged as not a person, such as your pet, a painting, the TV, etc. shows up in the Not a face category in your familiar faces library.

Get notified when your camera recognizes someone

To receive alerts when your camera recognizes someone, you need to turn on familiar face detection and people notifications. If you use the Home app, you’ll also need to turn on people events.

Note: If familiar face detection is off but people notifications are on, your camera won’t distinguish faces and you’ll only get person alerts.

Home app

  1. Open the Google Home app .
  2. Tap your camera.
  3. Tap Settings  and then Notifications.
  4. Under “Seen,” turn on People notifications.

Note: The app also tells you if you need to Turn on people events to get notifications. If people events are turned off, you won’t get people notifications.

Nest app

  1. Open the Nest app Nest app.
  2. Tap Settings Nest settings icon.
  3. Choose Notifications.
  4. Select your camera.
  5. Tap People to turn people notifications on or off. Make sure to turn on familiar face detection in the Home app or Nest app.

When you enable face detection and notifications

  • Nest’s face recognition algorithms start to look for individual faces.
  • When your camera spots an unfamiliar face, the app asks if you know the person.
  • If your camera detects a person but their face is not shown, it sends a Person alert instead.

When you disable face detection

  • Your camera stops using Nest’s face recognition algorithms.
  • None of your home members (Home app) or people with shared access (Nest app) receive familiar and unfamiliar face alerts.
  • You and everyone who shares your home can continue to get People notifications for any person your camera detects, but the alert won’t specify whether a face is familiar or unfamiliar. If needed, each person can also turn off People notifications.
  • Your camera’s familiar faces library doesn’t get deleted when you turn off familiar face detection. That way you can turn familiar face detection on or off whenever you like without having to rebuild your familiar faces library every time.

Manage your face library

Add or change the name of a person

Note: When you add or change a name of a person in the familiar face library in the Home app or Nest app, the change is also reflected in the other app.

Home app

  1. Open the Google Home app .
  2. Tap Settings and then Nest Aware and then Familiar face detection
  3. To add or change the name, tap a face and enter a new name.

Nest app

  1. Open the Nest app Nest app.
  2. Tap Settings Nest settings iconand then Familiar faces.
  3. Tap on the familiar face profile you want to name.
  4. Tap Name.
  5. Give the person a new name. You can use their actual name or enter a description like “mail carrier.”

Combine face profiles

Home app

  1. Open the Google Home app .
  2. Tap Settings and then Nest Aware and then Familiar face detection.
  3. Start edit mode (two different ways):
    • At the top right corner of the screen, tap Edit. Then, select the faces you want to merge.
    • To select the first face in edit mode, touch and hold a face on the screen. Then, tap the other face you want to merge. Both faces are selected when you do this.
  4. At the top right corner of the screen, tap Merge .

Nest app

  1. Open the Nest app Nest app.
  2. Tap Settings Nest settings icon and then Familiar faces.
  3. Tap Select and then tap the duplicate profile that you want to combine.
  4. If there are many duplicate profiles, tap the others as well and thenMerge .

Delete a person from the face library

You can permanently delete specific face profiles saved in your home’s familiar face library in the Home app or Nest app.

  • This removes the person from your familiar face library.
  • This also erases any snapshots used to help your camera recognize the person.
  • If you do this in either the Home app or Nest app, the change is also reflected in the other app.

Note: If you have more than one home in your account and you delete faces, it only applies to the home you’ve selected. Your familiar face library in other homes should be unaffected.

Home app

  1. Open the Google Home app .
  2. Tap Settings and then Nest Aware and then Familiar face detection
  3. Start edit mode (two different ways):
    • At the top right corner of the screen, tap Edit. Then, select the faces you want to delete.
    • To select the first face in edit mode, touch and hold a face on the screen. Then, tap any other face you want to delete.
  4. Tap Delete in the top right corner of the screen.

Nest app

  1. Open the Nest app Nest app.
  2. Tap Settings Nest settings icon.
  3. Select Familiar faces.
  4. Tap the face you want to delete.
  5. Choose Forget this face and then Remove.

Delete all familiar faces

You can permanently erase the entire familiar face library in the Home app or Nest app.

  • This removes all faces from Nest’s face recognition algorithms for your account.
  • This also erases all camera snapshots used for identification.
  • If you do this in either the Home app or Nest app, the change is also reflected in the other app.

Note: If you have more than one home in your account and erase the familiar face library, it only applies to the home you’ve selected. Your familiar face library in other homes should be unaffected.

Home app

  1. Open the Google Home app .
  2. Tap Settings and then Nest Aware and then Familiar face detection.
  3. At the top right corner of the screen, tap Options.
  4. Tap Delete face library.
  5. Once you receive the confirmation pop-up, tap Delete.

Nest app

  1. Open the Nest app Nest app.
  2. Tap Settings Nest settings icon.
  3. Select Familiar faces.
  4. Scroll down and select Clear library. Then, select Clear library again to confirm.

Privacy and control

How Nest cameras store familiar face data

These older Nest camera and doorbell models only store familiar face data to the cloud:

  • Nest Cam IQ Indoor
  • Nest Cam IQ Outdoor
  • Nest Doorbell (wired)

To help protect user privacy, this data is encrypted and is not accessed by Google.

Each of the following Nest camera and doorbell models store familiar face data locally in its internal memory:

  • Nest Cam (wired)
  • Nest Cam (battery)
  • Nest Doorbell (battery)

To help protect user privacy, locally-stored familiar face data is also encrypted. For security reasons, the internal memory for these devices is not accessible or removable.

Age-restricted access for familiar face detection

Note: This only applies to people who manage home members in the Home app.

To help ensure privacy and safety, home members in the Home app who are under the age of 13 in the US (or the applicable age in your country) have limited access to the familiar face detection feature. This means:

  • They can’t change familiar face detection settings or access the familiar face library.
  • They can’t turn on familiar face detection when setting up a new camera with a Nest Aware subscription.
  • They can still check familiar and unfamiliar face events in the Home app and Nest app.
  • They can still receive familiar face alerts from the Nest app.

When a home member under the age of 13 (or the applicable age in your country) enters their date of birth into their Google Account, they are prompted to switch to a supervised account.

An email from Google will be sent to let them know that their access has changed.


(1) Nest’s familiar face detection feature is not available on Nest cameras used in Illinois. Certain state legislation may affect Illinois customers’ use of the feature, so we disabled it as a precaution. If the home where you’re using your camera is in Illinois, you shouldn’t be able to turn on familiar face detection in the Nest app.

Use familiar face detection in compliance with the law. Depending on where you live, you might need to get consent to have your camera help identify people visiting your home.

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