Nest Upgrades Its “Thoughtful Home” With A New Camera, A New Smoke/CO Detector, And More

Google’s smart-home arm isn’t entering any new product categories, but it’s sprucing up its entire line.


Nest–the Google-owned company which pretty much kicked off the current smart-home boom with its web-savvy thermostat in 2011–hasn’t had much in the way of news lately. It addressed that on Wednesday morning with a press event hosted by cofounder Tony Fadell. The whole Nest product line is getting updated, with revised versions of its security camera, smoke detector, and smartphone app, plus some feature updates for the thermostat.


Nest Cam: Dropcam, Revised and Renamed

Last year, Nest bought Dropcam, makers of a web-enabled security camera that was so well-done that it already felt like a kindred spirit. Now it’s releasing a next-generation camera under the logical name of Nest Cam. Its Dropcam DNA is recognizable, but it has a skinnier, more adjustable stand with a tripod mount and a magnet that lets you do things like stick it to a refrigerator. Like the previous Dropcam Pro, Nest Cam does 1080p HD video. Nest says that its night-vision and motion-detection features improve on the Dropcam. It’s $199 and will be available next week.

Nest Protect: Smarter And Svelter

The updated version of Nest’s Protect smoke/CEO detector has a revised industrial design–it’s smaller and curvier–but the main news involves features designed to make it as certain as possible that it will alert you to trouble. The new version has what Nest calls a split-spectrum sensor, designed to be better at detecting both slow and fast fires. It’s less likely to get worked up over burnt toast and steamy showers, Nest says, and a redesigned smoke chamber is better at keeping out bugs. And the detector tests itself 400 times a day and does a brief sound check once a month, at a time when you’re unlikely to be home.

If Nest Protect does go off when there’s no actual emergency, you can now use the Nest app to turn off the alarm. But Nest didn’t mention one feature taht it introduced with the original Protect and then disabled when it couldn’t be positive it was safe: Wave, which let you turn off the alarm by waving your hand.

The new Nest Protect retains the first version’s $99 price and will be available next month.

Nest didn’t announce an all-new thermostat, but it is adding a couple of features via a software update. If you have both a Nest Protect and a Nest Thermostat, for instance, the Protect can alert the thermostat to smoke and CO leaks so that it can do a system shutdown.

Nest’s Maxime Veron shows off the new Nest ProtectPhoto: Harry McCracken for Fast Company

…And More

Nest is also upgrading its iOS, Android, and browser-based app with a new version which lets you remote-control all three of its hardware products, including existing Dropcams. And it’s working with insurance companies to provide discounts to Nest Protect owners who allow an automatic once-a-month check to verify that the detector is powered, connected to the Internet, and functioning properly. (This check will not tell insurance companies whether the detector actually went off, Nest says; whether that makes the idea non-creepy is a decision that every Nest Protect customer will have to make.)

Though Fadell presided over the event, he left the demoing to other Nest executives. In fact, he spent most of his time not touting new stuff but waxing nostalgic over the five-year journey that has gotten Nest to where it is today. “It’s been painstaking,” he said. “It’s been grueling. But we couldn’t be prouder.”

About the author

Harry McCracken is the technology editor for Fast Company, based in San Francisco. In past lives, he was editor at large for Time magazine, founder and editor of Technologizer, and editor of PC World.