A mockup of a smart security system with Google/Nest smart chime system

While it took a while for Nest to jump into the home security game, it looks like they may just be getting started.

What’s one potential trick up their sleeves?

Smart chimes.

That’s right, the folks within the Nest security team have filed for a patent that was published on November 2nd of this year that would transform a home security’s chime system into one that assigns unique chimes to specific people, locations, and events.

According to the patent filing, Google/Nest is working on a smart chime system that would play unique sounds depending on the location, type of event, whether a person is unidentified or identified, etc.

The description excerpted below describes the shortcomings of a conventional home chime system and how the one envisioned by Google/Nest would be different (bold emphasis added by me):

At least one problem common to conventional door chime systems is that door chimes offer only one type of sound effect for all doors and windows. As a result, the chime does not provide any information as to exactly which door or window was opened. Furthermore, the homeowner does not know if the chime sound indicates a person leaving the house, coming inside the house, just a window opening, or exactly who opened the door or window.

Another problematic feature common to many conventional door chime systems is disabling a chime from being sounded if one door or window is already open. In the scenario in which the front door is open and then a second door is opened, the opening of the second door does not cause the chime effect to be sounded, thus the residents are not informed.

The disclosed smart door chime system remedies these problems and provides many other improvements. The disclosed system can provide a customized chime or other sound based on current data obtained by sensors, historical data obtained by sensors, user input data, and additional factors as will be described below. The disclosed smart door chime system can process and store data that has been captured by sensors and analyze the data to extract information about the environment, such as activity of a person, identify of a person, activity of a pet, motion, etc. Based on the data, the disclosed smart door chime system selects an output profile that determines a specific sound to be played on a specific set of speakers. Accordingly, many different scenarios may be addressed and customized chimes or sounds can inconspicuously convey to users a wide variety of information about occurrences at a premises.

In short, Nest wants to be able to utilize motions sensors, cameras, facial recognition and other technologies to create a highly specific chime system to let the user create highly tailored audio signals to understand better what is going on around the home. Does Fido keep sneaking into the bedroom and eating your slippers? There’s a chime for that. Want to know when your youngest kid has walked out the backdoor? There’s a chime.  A stranger’s entered your home. Chime.

Not only that, it looks like the system could allow for some fun. For example, the patent application describes how you could tee up specific songs or audio files to play.  Spouse home from a long business trip and you want drop some clues for a romantic night at home? Just tee up a little Business Time from Flight of the Conchords when they walk through the front door.

You can see from the image below how the system would allow for tailored “zones” throughout the house:

Zones within the Google/Nest smart chime system

The image below shows how you can create specific rules and zones depending on the event. As you can see, you can play a chosen chimes/audio files in specific locations based on predetermined rules around events:

Rules for Google/Nest smart chime system allows user to tailor rules by event/zone/speaker

I’m not sure about you, but this sounds like a pretty useful feature. I can see how folks with young kids, pets or special needs family members could use a smart chime system to help them monitor the goings on in the home.

One such example would be to use a smart chime system to monitor autistic children. Parents with autistic kids often struggle with their children’s tendency to wander, and one could imagine using special chimes to alert when an autistic child gets near a door.

While this is only a patent application, let’s hope the team at Nest plan to turn the smart chime system into an actual product.

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  1. Very excited for this. Part of the promise of smart home is contextuality, including around who is in the home, the specific actions, etc. Looks like Nest is thinking this way with this patent application.

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