Recently i saw a video about Nest Protect, an smart smoke detector, that can be operated by waving your hand under it. Since there is no visible holes on the lower part i suppose they are not using any light/acoustic sensors, like IR or ultrasonic, so it could be an RF type sensor, but i have no idea what specific sensor, do you know how they detect the waving of the hand with such a precision?, i mean, i can easily detect movement with a PIR sensor, but i have no idea how to reduce the range (if possible) in order to detect only near objects movements.

EDIT: I found this picture of the sensor, they are actually two, one vertical and the other one inclined, seeing the picture can you tell what sensor type is?

enter image description here

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Look like US (Utra Sone == high frequency sound) to me. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 23:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ but they are behind the plastic enclosure, do they still work? \$\endgroup\$
    – DomingoSL
    Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 0:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Dunno. Or maybe the twins are just beepers, and that bigger thingy with 'FAST' on it is the handwaving detector. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 8:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not gonna read past the sloppy writing. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 15:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Teardown says ultrasound: learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/nest-protect-teardown. And not an 8-bit micro but three 32-bit ARM-based devices. \$\endgroup\$
    – pjc50
    Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 16:34

1 Answer 1


Those two are definitely ultrasonic transducers. One for Tx one for Rx. My guess is that only a hand wave close enough (because of the tilt angle) will trigger this. It could detect a simple echo, or might even do a doppler analysis to detect movements. More advanced method would be to use a "chirp" signal, but I doubt that is required here.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.