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Amazon’s radar sensors could help Alexa monitor your sleep patterns

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An FCC waiver will let Amazon build devices that track how you move in your sleep

Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Amazon is interested in using radar sensors to enable sleep tracking and gestures on its smart devices, according to new permissions granted by the Federal Communications Commission (via Bloomberg). The implementation might be similar to how Google uses its Soli sensor in the second-generation Nest Hub.

Amazon’s initial request to the FCC filed on June 22nd (and dug up by SlashGear) claims that its planned use of radar would enable “touchless control of device features and functions without causing harmful interference to co-frequency users,” which could be helpful to users with limited mobility or speech impairments. The company also says that the new sensors can be used for “sleep tracking and could help improve consumers’ awareness and management of sleep hygiene.”

Rumors first appeared that Amazon was building a “palm-sized” Alexa-enabled sleep tracker in January, with a specific focus on tracking breathing for users who have sleep apnea. The company also already digests and displays sleep data for anyone who uses its Halo band (the one with the accurate but problematic body scanning feature). Amazon’s been expanding on the Halo app’s capabilities with a new Movement Health feature analyzing flexibility that was released last week.

Amazon’s request doesn’t spell out what an actual product with these new radar sensors might look like, but adding them to future Echo devices doesn’t seem like much of a reach, given how comfortably they fit on bedside tables. In its Nest Hub, Google’s Soli radar sensors track sleep movements and breath in concert with microphones and an onboard temperature sensor. Buying in means allowing Google, and maybe one day Amazon, to stare at you all night but in a way that’s less invasive than a camera feed or wristband.