Learn about familiar face detection and how to manage your library

With Nest Aware, you can use familiar face detection1 to teach your Nest camera how to tell the difference between the faces you know and don't know. Over time, it can start to recognize people you know and send you more helpful alerts.

The following cameras can use familiar face detection:

  • Nest Cam IQ

  • Nest Hello video doorbell

  • Nest camera in your Nest Hub Max

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 visiting your home.

How familiar face detection works

Basics

  • Once you turn on familiar face detection, it works like other motion detection. So when your camera sees a face, the activity is marked in your camera’s video history.
  • You can view familiar face detection events in the Nest app’s Sightline and event history and the Google Home app’s Feed and History.
  • If your camera has detected an unfamiliar face, the Home app or Nest app will ask whether it’s someone you know. If you select Yes, the person’s face data is saved to your familiar face library to help your camera recognize the face as someone you know.  Please check your local privacy laws, and get the person’s permission first as required. 
  • If your camera has detected a familiar face, the event in your camera’s video history will let you know who’s been spotted.

Settings

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.

If you use both the Home app and the Nest app for your Nest camera, you’ll have a consistent view of familiar face detection settings across both apps. That means when any of these settings are changed in one app, it’ll be reflected in the other app. You may need to close and restart the other app to see the updated setting.

If you have a non-migrated Nest account, you can only change familiar face detection settings in the Nest app. Learn more about migrated and non-migrated Nest accounts in our FAQs about Nest accounts.

Notifications

Use the Nest app to turn on camera alerts so you can receive notifications on your phone when your camera detects a familiar or unfamiliar face. You cannot receive camera alerts from the Home app.

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 a Nest Aware subscription to use familiar face detection. If your home has some cameras with a 1st gen Nest Aware subscription but others don’t, you can only use familiar face detection for the cameras with a subscription.

  • You need to turn familiar face detection on or off for each camera individually.

  • If you turn familiar face detection off for one of your cameras, it can only send you person alerts. You  should continue to get familiar 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 will use the same familiar face library as the other cameras in your home so you don’t have to teach it as much.

Turn familiar face detection on or off

In the Home app

  1. On the home screen, tap Settings .

  2. Select Nest Aware.

Tap Familiar face detection. Toggle the switch next to each camera to turn its familiar face detection on or off. You may have to scroll down to see your cameras.

In the Nest app

  1. On the home screen, tap Settings Nest settings icon.

  2. Select Familiar faces.

  3. Tap Familiar face detection to turn it on or off for your camera. If you have multiple cameras with Nest Aware, you can tap each camera to enable or disable familiar face detection.

Turn on familiar face alerts

To turn on familiar or unfamiliar face alerts, you must turn on people notifications in the Nest app and turn on familiar face detection.

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

  1. On the Nest app home screen, tap Settings Nest settings icon.

  2. Choose Notifications.

  3. Select your camera.

  4. 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 turn on face detection and notifications

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

When you turn off 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 share your home can continue to get People notifications for any person your camera sees, but the alert won’t specify whether a face is familiar or unfamiliar. If needed, each person can turn off People notifications.

  • Your camera’s familiar faces library won’t get deleted if you turn off familiar face detection in the Home app or Nest app. That way you can turn familiar face detection on or off whenever you like without having to rebuild your familiar faces library every time.

Teach your camera which faces are familiar

To teach your camera how to send alerts for familiar or unfamiliar faces, you need to tell it who you know.

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

In the Home app

To view and categorize unfamiliar faces your camera has detected, go to familiar face detection settings.

  1. On the home screen, tap Settings .

  2. Select Nest Aware.

  3. Choose Familiar face detection.

  4. If your camera has seen new people, you can tap New faces to see and categorize them.

  5. For each new face, tap Yes, No, or Not a person. Then, follow the remaining on-screen prompts to identify the face.

    • To see anything you’ve tagged as Not a person, go to Familiar face detection And then tap Options in the top right corner of the screen And then Faces that aren’t people.

In the Feed

  1. You can view recently detected familiar and unfamiliar face events as camera events in the Feed. 

    • Unfamiliar face events will show up under Priority events in the Feed.

    • You may find recent familiar face events under Recent events in the Feed.

  2. Choose the unfamiliar face detection event you want to respond to.

    • For a single unfamiliar face detection event in the Feed, tap Add to face library.

    • For a group of unfamiliar face detection events in the Feed, tap Manage.

  3. From there, follow the onscreen prompts to identify each face your camera didn’t recognize.

In camera event details

You can go to the camera event’s additional details to see the faces your camera detected in the video clip.

  1. Tap the camera event in the Feed or History.

  2. Once the clip is open, swipe up from anywhere on the screen to see more details.

  3. In the “Faces” category, tap Manage, then follow the onscreen prompts to identify the faces your camera didn’t recognize.

In the Nest app

You can review and categorize the faces your camera spotted in the Nest app:

  1. On the home screen, select your camera.

  2. At the bottom of your camera’s Sightline, tap People.

  3. If your camera has seen 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 to 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.

 When responding 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 it 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.

Manage your familiar face library

Everyone with camera access in the app can categorize faces

  • Your camera’s familiar faces library and labels are shared with home members (Home app) and people with shared access (Nest app).

  • All Home app or Nest app users in your household can categorize the faces your camera sees and help make familiar face alerts more accurate.

Add or change the name of a person

Note: When you add or change a name of a person in your face library in the Home app or Nest app, the change will be reflected in the other app.

In the Home app

  1. On the home screen, tap Settings   And then Nest Aware And then Familiar face detection

  2. Tap a face to add or change the name.

In the Nest app

  1. On the home screen, tap Settings Nest settings icon And then Familiar faces.

  2. Tap on the familiar face profile you want to name.

  3. Tap Name.

  4. Give the person a new name. You can use their actual name or enter a description like “mail carrier.”

Combine faces that were identified as different people

In the Home app

^^In the Home app

  1. On the home screen, tap Settings  And then Nest Aware And then Familiar face detection.

  2. Start edit mode (two different ways):

    • Tap Edit in the top right corner of the screen, then select the faces you want to merge.

    • Long press a face on the screen to select the first face in edit mode. Then, tap the other face you want to merge. Both faces will be selected.

  3. Tap Merge nest familiar face merge icon  in the top right corner of the screen.

In the Nest app

  1. On the home screen, Tap Settings Nest settings icon And then Familiar faces.

  2. Tap Select And then tap the duplicate profile that you want to combine.

  3. If there are many duplicate profiles, tap the others as well And then tap Merge nest familiar face merge icon

Delete a person or all your faces

You can permanently delete specific faces saved in your home’s familiar faces library, or permanently erase your entire familiar face library in the Home app or Nest app. If you do this in either app, the change will be reflected in the other app.

Note: If you have more than one home in your account, deleting faces or erasing your familiar face library will only apply to the home you’ve selected. Your familiar face library in other homes will be unaffected.

In the Home app

To delete one or more faces in your library

  1. On the home screen, tap Settings And then Nest Aware And then Familiar face detection

  2. Start edit mode (two different ways):

    • Tap Edit in the top right corner of the screen, then select the faces you want to delete.

    • Long press a face on the screen to select the first face in edit mode. Then, tap any other face you want to delete. The faces will show as selected.

  3. Tap Delete in the top right corner of the screen. This deletes the person from your familiar face library and removes and snapshots used to help your camera recognize the person.

To delete your entire face library

  1. On the home screen, tap Settings And then Nest Aware And then Familiar face detection.

  2. Tap Options in the top right corner of the screen.

  3. Tap Delete face library.

  4. Once you receive the confirmation pop-up, tap Delete. Your familiar face library will be cleared for your home.

In the Nest app

On the Nest app home screen, tap Settings Nest settings icon And then Familiar faces, then do one of the following:

To delete a person, tap on their face and then tap Forget this face And then Remove when prompted to confirm your deletion.

Your camera will stop recognizing the face as someone you know. It also removes them from Nest’s face recognition algorithms and deletes any camera snapshots used for identification.

To delete all your familiar faces, including everybody you categorized as familiar or not a person, scroll to the bottom and tap Clear library. You should receive a pop-up confirmation, tap Clear library again to confirm.

This removes all faces from Nest’s face recognition algorithms for your account and deletes all camera snapshots used for identification.

(1) Nest’s familiar face detection feature is not available on Nest Hub Max used in the EU or Nest cameras used in Illinois. Certain state legislation may affect Illinois customers’ use of the feature, so we’ve turned it off as a precaution. If the home where you use your camera is in Illinois, you can’t turn on familiar face detection in the Nest app.

Was this helpful?
How can we improve it?