Google zooms in on smart-home vision with Nest Cam

Almost a year to the day after announcing it would acquire Dropcam, Google-owned Nest shows off what it's done with Dropcam's home-monitoring technology.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
3 min read

Nest introduced a new Web-connected security camera. James Martin/CNET

SAN FRANCISCO -- When Google's Nest bought Dropcam, maker of a smart security camera, the arrival of Nest's own home-monitoring device seemed only a matter of time.

Smart-home company Nest -- which is owned by the search giant -- made it official Wednesday, announcing its latest Internet-connected device for the household: the Nest Cam.

Nest's smart home lineup gets an upgrade (pictures)

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The camera shoots high-definition security footage, lets you zoom in on different areas of the house and has sound and motion sensing features. The camera will also adjust the lighting of footage at night to make it easier to see. The product will cost $200 or £159 and will start shipping next week. It will be available at retailers like Best Buy, Amazon and Target.

Nest also announced a cloud video service called Nest Aware that will let you save video footage instead of just live-streaming it. A subscription to the service will cost $10 or £8 per month to let you view footage from over the past 10 days, or $30 or £24 per month for footage over the last 30 days.

"We've changed the conversation about the connected home," Tony Fadell, Nest's co-founder, said during a press event here.

Watch this: Nest CEO wants to make your home even smarter

The product unveiling takes place as Google and other Silicon Valley giants become more ambitious about their role in consumers' homes. But the move -- which could give Nest valuable insight into people's behavior while at home -- will also likely raise concerns from privacy advocates who think Google already has too much access to people's personal data. Google relies on that sort of data to make its services better and, in some cases, attract advertisers.

The smart-home market is already crowded. Apple last year unveiled Homekit, which lets people use their iPhones to control smart devices around the house. Last week, Apple said Homekit would be able to control security systems, window shades and motion sensors. Also last year, Samsung bought SmartThings, a startup that aims to be a hub for Internet-connected products.

The camera is the third device developed by Nest, co-founded and led by Fadell, a former Apple executive. He's considered a hardware guru and played a key role in the development of Apple's original iPod and iPhone. Nest's other products are a smart thermostat and a smart smoke detector. Google bought Nest in February 2013 for $3 billion.

The new product doesn't come as a surprise. Nest announced it was acquiring Dropcam, which makes a Web-connected home-security camera, almost exactly a year ago for more than $550 million. Earlier this month, pictures of the Nest Cam leaked on the blog Droid Life.

Google has also been focused on becoming the software platform that powers the smart home. At the search giant's annual developer conference last month, the company announced Brillo, a platform that aims to make all the disparate Web-connected devices in a home work together. The key to the software is that it will work with low-powered devices that don't have much computing punch. Google said it would be available for software developers in the third quarter.

The smart-home effort is not new for Google. In 2011, the company introduced Android@Home, which also allowed developers to build apps so several household devices could be controlled by an Android phone. The platform never gained traction with app makers.

Nest on Wednesday also introduced a new version of its smoke detector, the Nest Protect. One new feature is the ability to silence the alarm from a smartphone app. Nest also announced a home insurance program with Liberty Mutual and American Family Insurance to give customers rewards -- like discounts -- for owning a Nest Protect. The company also touted new features that let Nest products communicate with each other. For example, if the smoke detector senses smoke, the thermostat will automatically shut off.