SAN FRANCISCO—Nest, the Google subsidiary devoted to home automation, announced a refresh to its product line Wednesday, which includes a second-generation smoke detector, a unified Nest app, and the rebranded Dropcam, now called "Nest Cam."
In a press event held in an art gallery, company reps touted the new Nest Protect smoke detector ($99/£89/€119), which features new dual-wavelength sensors that can detect "fast and slow moving fires" and can also distinguish between steam and smoke.
"We're really good at reducing nuisance alarms," Nest head of marketing Maxime Veron told assembled media, pointing out the new ability to disable the alarm from a smartphone. "When you burn toast, the last thing you want is the smoke alarm to yell at you."
The new Protect lacks the company's "Nest Wave" feature, which would allow users to silence an errant alarm by waving their hand under the smoke detector. Nest found that under "a unique combination of circumstances" the alarm could be disabled unitentionally. Now, if you burn the toast, you'll have to whip out your smartphone.
According to Nest's press release, the new Protect has been redesigned to be 11 percent smaller and now sits "more flush against the ceiling or wall." The light, used not only for alarms but also as a motion detecting nightlight in the dark, is now brighter. The new Protect is also equipped with a microphone, which the company says is used for a once-a-month sound check—the Nest beeps, and the microphone listens and confirms the beeping still works. We get the feeling that privacy advocates will be uneasy about the addition of a microphone.
With the Nest Cam, the Dropcam brand seems to be dead—besides the hardware rebranding, the cloud video subscription service is now called "Nest Aware."
Veron confirmed to Ars after the event that the Nest Cam's hardware (still $199) is "mainly the same" as the Dropcam Pro. The big addition over the Dropcam Pro is 1080p support. In the past, Dropcam reps have said the Pro is capable of 1080p, but the feature was disabled due to bandwidth issues. The Nest Cam isn't yet available in the UK or Europe; the website says it's "coming soon."
The stand for the camera has been redesigned and now has a rare-earth magnet in the bottom, allowing it to easily be stuck to a metal object. Night vision has also been improved thanks to new algorithms that can tell the difference between the sun (for day/night mode) and a temporary light like a flashlight or headlight.
Nest is also launching a unified app that can control the Nest Thermostat, Nest Cam, and Nest Protect from a single app. We asked if Nest was finally adding geofencing to the new app, which would automatically turn the thermostat on and off based on the user's location, but sadly, the answer was no.
The company also announced a new program called the Nest Safety Awards to incentivize further Nest ownership. Under the plan, homeowners who have Liberty Mutual or American Family homeowners' insurance can get a free Nest Protect and up to five percent off if they agree to regularly transmit the fact that their Nest is on and operational to their insurance company.
"What's also important to us is privacy," Senior Product Manager Greg Hu said. "Personal info is never shared with insurance companies."
The Nest Cam and Protect can both be ordered now. The Nest Cam ships this month, and the Protect ships next month in the US. The app should be hitting the iOS and Android app stores today.
repost from arstechnica.com