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Familiar face detection

With Nest Aware, you can use familiar face detection1 to teach your Nest camera how to recognize faces of people that  you know and notify you when it sees people you don't know. Over time, facial recognition will become more accurate at determining faces you know 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 visiting your home.

How familiar face detection works

Basics
  • If you turn on familiar face detection, whenever your camera detects a face, the activity will be marked in your camera’s recorded video in the Home or Nest app.
  • If your camera has detected an unfamiliar face, the 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.
    Note: Check your local privacy laws, and if required get the person’s permission first before using. 
  • 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 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.

Note: To change familiar face detection and alert settings, use the app you set your camera up in and 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 a Nest Aware subscription to use familiar face detection.
    Note: 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.

Event detection accuracy

Nest Cams and Doorbells help show you what’s going on at home, but the technology itself isn’t perfect. We try to make our camera events as accurate as possible, but your camera or doorbell may miss things like:

  • Confuse a picture with a real event. For example, a t-shirt with a picture of a dog on it might trigger an animal detection event.
  • A person crawling on the ground could be misidentified as a pet.
  • Close relatives can be misidentified.

Turn familiar face detection on or off

Home app
  1. Open the Home app Google 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 icon.
  2. Tap Settings Nest settings icon.
  3. Select Familiar faces.
  4. Turn on or off Familiar face detection for each camera.
Get notified when your camera recognizes someone

To receive alerts when your camera recognizes someone, you need to turn on familiar face detection, people notifications, and (if you use the Home app) notifications for people in events.

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.

Home app 

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

Note: The app will also tell 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 icon.
  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 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 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

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 below.

Home app

To view and categorize unfamiliar faces your camera has detected:

  1. Open the Google Home app Google Home app.
  2. Tap Settings .
  3. Select Nest Aware.
  4. Choose Familiar face detection.
  5. If your camera has seen new people, you can tap New faces to see and categorize them.
  6. 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 And then Faces that aren’t people.

The Feed

To view recently detected familiar and unfamiliar face events as camera events in the Feed:

  1. Open the Google Home app Google Home app.
  2. Tap Feed 
    • Unfamiliar face events will show up under Priority events.
    • You may find recent familiar face events under Recent events.
  3. Choose the unfamiliar face detection event you want to respond to.
    • For a single unfamiliar face detection event, tap Add to face library.
    • For a group of unfamiliar face detection events, tap Manage.
  4. Follow the prompts to identify each face your camera didn’t recognize.

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 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

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

  1. Open the Nest app Nest app icon.
  2. Select your camera.
  3. At the bottom of your camera’s Sightline, tap People.
  4. 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.
Home app
  1. Open the Google Home app Google Home app.
  2. Tap Settings   And then Nest Aware And then Familiar face detection.
  3. Tap a face to add or change the name.

Nest app
  1. Open the Nest app Nest app icon.
  2. Tap Settings Nest settings icon And 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 faces that were identified as different people
Home app
  1. Open the Google Home app Google Home app.
  2. Tap Settings  And then Nest Aware And then Familiar face detection.
  3. Start edit mode (two different ways):
    • Tap Edit in the top right corner of the screen, then select the faces you want to merge.
    • Touch and hold 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.
  4. Tap Merge  in the top right corner of the screen.
Nest app
  1. Open the Nest app Nest app icon.
  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 then tap Merge .

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.

Home app

Delete a face

  1. Open the Google Home app Google Home app.
  2. Tap Settings And then Nest Aware And then Familiar face detection.
  3. Start edit mode (two different ways):
    • Tap Edit in the top right corner of the screen, then select the faces you want to delete.
    • Touch and hold 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.
  4. 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.

Delete your entire face library

  1. Open the Google Home app Google Home app.
  2. Tap Settings And then Nest Aware And then Familiar face detection.
  3. Tap Options in the top right corner of the screen.
  4. Tap Delete face library.
  5. Once you receive the confirmation pop-up, tap Delete. Your familiar face library will be cleared for your home.
Nest app

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. 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.

Privacy and control

How Nest cameras store familiar face data

The following Nest camera and doorbell models store familiar face data locally in internal memory. To help protect user privacy, locally-stored familiar face data is also encrypted. For security, the internal memory for these devices is not accessible or removable.

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

These older Nest camera and doorbell models only store familiar face data to the cloud. To help protect user privacy, this data is encrypted and is not accessed by Google.

  • Nest Cam Indoor
  • Nest Cam Outdoor
  • Nest Cam IQ Indoor
  • Nest Cam IQ Outdoor
  • Nest Doorbell (wired)
  • Dropcam (all models)

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 see 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 will be 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 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.

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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