Google's Nest launches new home camera, smoke detector
Under pressure to unveil new products after being bought by Google for $3.2 billion more than a year ago, Nest Labs on Wednesday introduced its first home camera, an updated smoke detector and new software for its smart thermostat.
"We've refreshed our entire product line," said Tony Fadell, Nest's CEO who helped create Apple's iPod before founding the Palo Alto smart home startup in 2010.
The most significant new development Fadell's team introduced inside a San Francisco art gallery Wednesday was the Nest camera, a WiFi-enabled home surveillance device that builds upon the cameras built by DropCam, another startup acquired for $555 million and folded into Google's Nest in June.
Also introduced was a new Nest Protect, a smoke alarm designed to be more convenient, and interactive, than the traditional models homeowners frequently rip off their ceilings when they sound too many false beeps or stop working; and new software that makes Nest's thermostat more intelligent.
All of the devices are also increasingly working in concert with one another. If Protect detects carbon monoxide, the thermostat will shut off the furnace; if it detects smoke, users will get a phone alert and can use the Nest app to peer into their living room or bedroom using the camera to make sure nothing is on fire.
"We've changed the conversation about the connected home," Fadell said. Before it was futuristic, and geeky, but today it is considered accessible, simple and human-friendly, he said.
Focusing on the safety, convenience and even "coziness" provided by Nest's connected devices - "your home should know when you're there, and when you're not," said a video aired at the event - Fadell and other Nest executives mostly avoided the privacy concerns that have steered some consumers away from the devices.
Developers said later they didn't emphasize privacy because it is integral to the products.
"Privacy for us is not a feature. It's so integrated with the products we're doing," said Maxime Veron, head of Nest's product marketing, in an interview. "From the moment we start working with our products, privacy is at the core of it."
Among the new features of the Nest camera that was not available on Dropcam devices is a green light that switches on when the camera is streaming. That green light begins blinking when someone is watching, or at least has the Nest app open, and the light turns blue if someone wants to talk, said Dropcam co-founder Aamir Virani.
"A lot of people had concern when we got bought by Google," Veron said. "But Nest data stays Nest data. We do not share it with Google."
Exceptions are if users choose to integrate Google features such as Google Now, to control home temperature or other operations remotely using voice commands, he said.
The Nest Protect smoke detector will sell for $100, the Nest Cam for $200 and the Nest Assure online camera service for $10 monthly.
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