Google’s Nest Unveils New Camera

Google Inc.’s Nest Labs rolled out an overhaul of its product line, including new versions for its home-security camera and its smoke alarm, pushing the Web company deeper into technologies for smart homes.

The updates, some of the biggest since Nest was acquired by Google last year, include a $199 camera and a video storage and management service that costs $10 per month, Maxime Veron, head of Nest hardware product marketing, said at an event in San Francisco. It also slimmed down its Protect smoke alarm, added features to the Nest application and put in new options for its thermostat.

The company has shipped millions of devices, said Tony Fadell, co-founder of Nest Labs. While declining to give specific numbers, Fadell said he sees double or triple-digit growth. Partnerships with insurance companies and Nest’s Protect product could be key to future revenue increases, he said.

“Everyone’s talking about connected-this and IOT-that,” Fadell said in an interview, referring to the Internet of Things that links physical objects to software. “We’ve been doing it longer than anyone else, and we want to show what it takes to really do it properly.”

Google’s Nest unit is pouring resources into its product lineup to convince consumers that they need to modernize their home gear with connected, intelligent devices as it competes with rivals such as Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc.

Nest is considering working with Apple and its HomeKit app for the iPhone, Fadell said in a separate interview with Bloomberg Television. HomeKit provides software so appliances can be controlled with Apple smartphones and tablets.

After Nest joined Google, the company bought security startup Dropcam for about $550 million last year to help round out its offerings. Dropcam, founded in 2009, lets users place cameras throughout a home for live viewing and recording, including an option for night vision.

Nest Cam

The new Nest Cam is based on Dropcam’s products but is slimmed down and includes features such as better night vision and higher resolution. It comes with a monthly plan, starting at $10, and includes 10 or 30 days of video history, a simpler way to find images in the footage and a tool for highlighting what areas the camera should focus on.

The smoke alarm, Nest Protect, is also thinner and includes various features to automatically ensure it’s working while avoiding false warnings.

Nest is partnering with home insurance companies including American Family Insurance Co. and Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. with its Protect product. Eligible customers can get the device at a reduced cost or for free, and can receive discounts on insurance premiums through a reward program.

Fadell’s focus on getting the product right paid off when he was at Apple, where he worked during the company’s rise after joining in 2001. He was a longtime deputy to co-founder Steve Jobs and central to the development of the iPod and iPhone.

Apple Cues

Nest’s “learning thermostat” takes cues from Apple by combining a slick, polished hardware design with software that learns consumers’ heating and cooling patterns over time and makes automatic temperature adjustments based on that history.

Fadell, who didn’t comment on his new efforts around computerized eyewear Glass, said the relationship with Google has helped bolster the company’s ambitions, including more investment capital, for example.

“We’re getting much more out of the relationship where we want it — and none of the bad stuff where we don’t want it,” he said.

Last month, Mountain View, California-based Google took the wraps off a new set of technologies for the Internet of Things called Project Brillo, an operating system. It also unveiled Weave, for helping linked items communicate. Nest collaborated with Google on Weave but not Brillo, Fadell said.

“We’ve changed the conversation about the connected home,” Fadell said. “Our products work together, talking securely, safely — doing more together than they can do independently. That’s what the thoughtful home is all about. It’s simple and intuitive, and it’s only getting better.”

By: Brian Womack
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