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Google’s biggest Pixel innovation has a new home

Published Oct 13th, 2020 7:31AM EDT
Google Nest Thermostat 2020
Image: Nest

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  • Google announced a brand new Nest Thermostat that incorporates one of the company’s biggest innovations for its Pixel phones.
  • The new smart home gadget comes with a built-in Soli radar system that will be used to detect motion inside the house.
  • Data from the radar system combined with location-tracking information will allow the new Nest Thermostat to adjust energy consumption to prevent cooling or heating an empty room.

Google needed two years to copy Apple’s 3D face recognition unlock that debuted with the iPhone X in 2017. Face ID is now available on all iPhones launched since then, except for the new iPhone SE and all iPod Pros. The Pixel 4 was the first and only Google phone to support 3D face recognition, and Google delivered an overkill upgrade for it. That’s the Project Soli radar system that detects the face or hands’ presence and triggers specific actions. No matter how sophisticated it might be, Soli had little to show for on the Pixel 4. It ruined the phone’s design, as the radar system takes plenty of space at the top of the phone, and offered no real must-have gesture-based features. Google killed Soli after just a year, with Pixel 5 losing its 3D face recognition features. But Soli isn’t dead, and Google repurposed the radar chip for a new device. We’re still a long way from Minority Report interaction with a computer, but Soli might prove to be more useful inside the new Nest Thermostat than in the Pixel.

Unveiled on Monday, the new Nest Thermostat costs $129, and it’s available for purchase in the US, Canada, and other places. Best Buy and Home Depot will stock the new device, and you can order it directly from the Google Store. The device comes in several colors and features a simpler, intuitive design that lets you set up the desired temperature with ease.

But you’ll probably interact with the device via the Home app rather than touching the actual dial on the side, as the Nest Thermostat is meant to help you save money and the environment with its smart features.

That’s where Soli comes into play. The radar system will detect motion and combine the data with location information from your home. The thermostat will know if you’ve left the house to set itself to an Eco temperature automatically. That way, you won’t waste energy for cooling or heating the home when you’re not there.

Soli is just one of the features that can help you reduce energy consumption. The new Nest thermostat also comes with a Quick Schedule feature available in the Home app. The feature lets you set a custom temperature at different times and on different days. It will suggest pre-set temperatures as well. And you’ll have total control over it from the app.

The Savings Finder is a feature that lest the thermostat look for small optimization that will help you save energy. It can suggest “small tweaks” to your schedule via the Home app, like a small change to sleep temperature.

Finally, the thermostat can now detect issues with your heater or AC unit and provide notifications if it thinks something isn’t working as it should be. An alert on the Home app will inform you of the potential malfunction and let you schedule a visit from a Handy technician. The feature will be available later this month to all eligible thermostat.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.