Nest Labs upgrades camera, talking smoke detector
SAN FRANCISCO — Google’s Nest Labs is releasing new versions of its surveillance-video camera and talking smoke detector as part of its attempt to turn homes into yet another thing that can be controlled and tracked over the Internet. The gadgets unveiled Wednesday are Nest’s most significant product updates since Google bought the Palo Alto, Calif., company last year for about $2.75 billion. A few months later, Google bought surveillance-camera maker Dropcam for $517 million to help Nest realize its ambition of creating “thoughtful” homes. Like several other technology companies, Google is implanting its own products and services into homes as more appliances and other gadgets feed into an Internet-connected matrix. Nest, which is led by former Apple engineer and iPod designer Tony Fadell, is playing a central role in Google’s expansion into homes. Google also is building an operating system called Brillo to enable all the Internet-connected home devices to communicate with each other. Brillo will compete against a similar system called HomeKit offered by Apple. In most instances, a person’s smartphone will serve as a remote for controlling all the Internet-connected appliances. The smartphones can also be used to receive notifications about what’s happening in the house. The concept of a fully automated home once seemed like a far-off vision, Fadell said, but not any longer. “We have changed the conversation of the connected home,” Fadell boasted Wednesday. and better infrared technology for recording images in the dark. It will cost $199. Nest is also teaming up with two home insurers, Liberty Mutual and American Family, to offer a five per cent discount when policyholders agree to install the devices and allow the insurers to review monthly information to show everything is functioning normally. In some instances, Liberty Mutual and American Family will give policyholders a free Nest smoke detector if they sign up for the safety-rewards program. American Family is only offering the program in Minnesota initially while Liberty Mutual will initially test it in Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.