Nest has launched the next phase of its battle plan to take over your (smart) home – a new and improved Nest Protect smoke alarm, a Dropcam-ish Nest Cam plus a new app that’ll let you control these along with your Nest learning thermostat.
The new products, which hit the shelves later this summer, are designed to interact and complement one another.
If the new Nest Protect detects smoke and triggers an alarm, the Nest Cam will immediately start recording footage. This way, if you’re out of the house when an alarm is triggered, you’ll get a notification along with a link to the video feed. Then you’ll be able to take the appropriate action – silence the Nest Protect if it turns out to be a false alarm or call the fire service.
CEO Tony Fadell was keen to emphasise that Nest is a modular system that’ll also play nicely with other things like IFTTT (If This Then That) as well as other devices like Philips Hue that have signed up for the Works With Nest kitemark.
Nest, Fadell says, is primarily about making the smart home and home automation easy to use and less scary.
“Before Nest, the connected home was a bit geeky, a little weird,” Fadell said. “But today it’s accessible, it’s human… we always wanted to build more than a thermostat. Our vision was to create a thoughtful home, a home that takes care of itself and the people in it.”
That’s the vision anyway. What about the new products?
Nest Protect second generation: Smart sensors
First up is the second generation Nest Protect. Thanks to the new and improved Nest app, you’ll be able to shut this off more easily should your burnt toast or boiling kettle accidently trigger an alarm.
The thing is, you probably won’t have to do that a lot of the time, due to leaps Nest has made in smoke detection.
Available to pre-order now, the £89 second-gen Nest Protect smart smoke alarm is apparently better at detecting different types of fires than its predecessor. It boasts a new split-spectrum sensor that is better able to distinguish between your toaster and a real fire, as well as what Nest calls ‘fast and slow-burning fires’.
By fast and slow, Nest is referring to data that says these days it takes as little as five minutes for a fire to spread across a large open floor plan room with modern furniture made of composite materials compared to your typical house plan in a home from the 1970’s, when smoke alarms first became popular.
Newer synthetic materials generally burn more quickly and the smoke released gives off different particles that aren’t as easily detected by the single-beam infrared photoelectric sensors used in older alarms.
Arming the new Nest Protect with a second blue LED beam means it can spot smaller particles. Nest has published a white paper on photoelectric detection which explains is split-spectrum theory in greater detail.
Nest says the second generation Protect tests its sensor over 400 times a day and automatically tests its 85dB horn and speaker once a month. It’ll attempt to do this at a time of day when you’re not at home, so hopefully it shouldn’t blare out alarm tones when you’re re-watching that horrific Game of Thrones season 5 finale for the eight again.
And speaking of black-clad watchers on the wall…
Nest Cam: a Full HD guardian for your home
Next up on the new Nest roster is Nest Cam. Visually, it looks like a cross between a Dropcam Pro (Nest bought Dropcam last June) and a Google Maps pin drop in gunmetal and black.
The circular base of the metal stand features a magnetic ring that lets you attach it to a variety of metallic surfaces, from exposed girders (as we did), wall surfaces and fridge doors. You can also screw the Nest Cam into a tripod mount if you want to permanently secure it to any non-magnetic surfaces.
While the stand of the Nest Cam isn’t motorised (you can’t make it pan left and right across a room) the 3-megapixel sensor does boast a 130 degree viewing angle plus eight infrared sensors which help give a clearer picture of your house at night.
As well as being compact, sturdy and easily posable, Nest Cam boasts 1080p Full HD video recording which can be beamed to your phone or to the Nest desktop app via WiFi.
This lets you patch into a live feed of what’s taking place in your house whenever. Motion detection means that you can have your Nest Cam alert you when people family members or flatmates get home from school or work.
Subscribers to the Nest Aware service can also store up to 10 or 30 days worth of footage to the cloud. As well as being able to archive footage, Nest Aware subscribers will also be able to do neat things like create time lapses of your domestic bliss a la Instagram’s Hyperlapse.
Nest told us that video sessions, content and communications between Nest Cam and Nest’s cloud servers and client devices is protected by 128-bit SSL encryption. This level of protection applies to all Nest Cam video sessions whether you subscribe to Nest Aware or not.
Other cloud-powered features available to Nest Cam buyers includes the ability for users to ‘draw’ activity areas on video feeds.
This lets you draw boxes around things like couches, TV sets, doors, windows, cat flaps and so on if you want the Nest Cam so send you alerts whenever activity occurs in any of these zones of interest you create.
The Nest Cam will hit British shelves early July and will cost £159. You get a free 30 day trial of the basic Nest Aware subscription, which lets you store up to 10 days’ worth of footage in the cloud.
The 10-day Nest Aware service normally costs £8/month on a rolling monthly basis or, if you fancy paying up front in order to get a saving, you can pay £80/year instead.
If you want the full fat 30 day version, that’s a little pricier at £24/month. Again, if you’ve got deep pockets and you want to get twelve months cover for the price of ten, you can cough up £240 for a year instead.
Nest app 5.0: One app to Nest them all
Rounding out Nest’s three-pronged smart home assault is the latest version of the mobile apps that’ll be rolling out to iTunes App Store and Google Play soon.
This essentially ties everything together and whether you have a Nest learning thermostat, a Nest Protect or Nest Cam (or all three) this is the smart Swiss army knife you’ll open up, regardless of what you want to do.
Joost van Hoof, Nest’s product manager for Nest Protect and Nest Cam in Europe took us through the main points of the new Nest app – regrettably, we weren’t able to get any hands-on time with a fully working version of the new app, so what we’ve got here is essentially screenshots.
We understand that the app is essentially finished, but results may vary so take what you see here with a pinch of salt.
The home screen of the app features dedicated spots for each Nest device you have running in your home. This lets you easily open up the control panel of whichever device you want to use.
You’ll notice that the look and feel of the thermostat section of the app has been given a visual overhaul, bringing the design language of that familiar circular menu screen to your fingertips. As always, you’ll be able to remotely control the heat of your home, check energy histories and schedules on the go.
While the new Nest Protect will test out its batteries, speaker, sensor and WiFi connection automatically, you can perform a manual system test from your phone, as well as silence it in the event of any toaster or kettle-based false alarms.
The Nest Cam interface lets you review any clips you’ve got stored in the cloud as well as watch live feeds. There’s a zoom and enhance feature that lets you focus in on specific areas of the feed. The camera features an 8 x digital zoom, which you can control from the app by pinching and zooming on the screen, just as you would to zoom in on a still photo in the gallery.
As well as accessing the new Nest features through your phone, you’ll also be able to view live streams and manage Nest Aware footage via Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari.
Launch dates for the new mobile apps are still TBC – all we know for now is that they’ll require you to be running at least iOS 8 and Android 4.0 or higher.