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Smart Home

What's next for Nest? Smart thermostats, the 'Nest Cam' and beyond

On the eve of a Nest press conference, we take a look back at where the brand has been and where it might be headed.

The second-gen (left) and original Nest Learning Thermostats side by side. Lindsey Turrentine/CNET

Nest Labs has kept pretty busy since it introduced the Nest Learning Thermostat in 2011. Since that initial release, the company has introduced a second-gen thermostat and smoke-and-carbon-monoxide detector Nest Protect ; was purchased by tech giant Google; bought a startup of its own (security camera company Dropcam); and it launched its own Internet of Things (IoT) initiative called Works with Nest, which pairs Nest products with third-party brands such as Whirlpool, Big Ass Fans and Mercedes-Benz.

All of that would be enough to solidify Nest's smart home status, but then parent-company Google announced last month that it's jumping into the smart-home game head-on with its own IoT operating system called Brillo, and Wave protocol language.

Also, earlier this month Droid-Life leaked mockups of a Nest-branded security camera (which the site dubbed the "Nest Cam") and it looks quite similar to the Dropcam Pro . The site also published purported screenshots of a consolidated app which would give you control over all of your Nest and Dropcam products. Nest has press conference on Wednesday, June 17, so we'll know if this "Nest Cam" thing is legit soon enough.

The new Nest Cam, as reported by Droid-Life. Droid-Life

While the potential for a Dropcam-style "Nest Cam" and a universal Nest app isn't particularly surprising, it would give Nest Labs a shiny new stake in the smart-home ground.

Given that Apple's first HomeKit-enabled products are starting to roll out, it makes strategic sense for Nest (and Google) to make some noise now. And they have an excellent opportunity to do just that.

Apple's HomeKit is pretty exclusive -- brands have to go through an involved process to get their hardware "HomeKit certified." That also means that many of them have to completely replace existing products in order for Siri integration to work.

We already saw this with the HomeKit-enabled Lutron Smart Bridge . Lutron's Smart Bridge relies on Clear Connect technology, which communicates with a variety of lighting products, such as plug-in and in-wall dimmers. But, in order for it to work with HomeKit, Lutron had to scrap its original Smart Bridge for an identical-looking one with similar functionality in every way except for its added Apple integration. In short, that means existing fans of Lutron who own the original Smart Bridge can't initiate a simple software update to make their stuff "Work with Siri." They have to buy a new Smart Bridge.

Using Siri to control a Lutron plug-in dimmer. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

If Nest can seamlessly integrate new products with older ones in its Works with Nest line, the company could earn some advantage by demonstrating early adopter-friendliness. There's also a slight chance we'll see more from Project Brillo. Google didn't show much about its forthcoming IoT software, but the company did say it will be compatible with Works for Nest products. The software technically doesn't roll out to third-party developers until Q3 of this year, so a full unveiling tomorrow might not be the most likely thing. Still, a new product release is as good a time as any to show at least a bit more of what Brillo has to offer.

Either way, we look forward to sharing the latest from Nest's upcoming event as the startup-turned-Google-brand steadily adds to its IoT empire. We'll have full coverage here.