The promise of the smart home has been disappointingly slow to fulfill. But Nest Labs is hoping to make homes a little smarter with its new indoor security camera, the Nest Cam IQ. The $299 device will feature a 4K camera and deploy some of the artificial intelligence technology Google has been developing in recent years.
Nest Labs will begin taking U.S. orders today for the Cam IQ, with first shipments expected within a month. The camera includes an 8-megapixel, 4K sensor that allows for 12X digital zoom — enough resolution to zoom in on a face across the room and capture a clear image. The camera records video in 1080p, so the 4K sensor is used largely to power the zoom feature.
Reports of a new Nest camera leaked out last week. But Nest has also added software to the Cam IQ that uses the zoom feature to zero in on and track an intruder around its 130-degree view of a room. The software is also designed to distinguish between a person and, say, a pet or a shadow on the wall, before it sends an alert.
Customers who subscribe to Nest Aware, a service that can store 30 days worth of video, will have access to cloud-based algorithms that rely on Google’s AI. Face-recognition technology, for example, can identify family members and learn to differentiate them from strangers. Audio alerts can be sent when the camera’s microphones recognize a person speaking or a dog barking out of range, while filtering out a podcast or radio station in the next room.
The IQ is aimed at addressing a source of frustration for those monitoring home security cameras from afar: endless notifications of people and things moving about that just aren’t a big deal. As an Alphabet subsidiary, Nest is drawing on the same AI platform that powers Google searches.
“At I/O last week, Sundar Pichai was saying we are an AI-first company. Well, this is a direct application of that AI technology for a very specific use case, which is a static camera inside a home,” Maxime Veron, Nest’s head of product marketing, told VentureBeat.
The Nest Cam IQ also includes speakers 7X more powerful than those on its original camera, as well as three microphones to help suppress noise and echoes for clearer sound. Two 940-nanometer infrared LEDs allow for video images in the dark without the red glow that accompanies many nighttime images.
Ever since Google bought Nest Labs for $3.2 billion in 2014, the connected-home devices company has seemed something of an uneasy fit. At first, it looked like the creation of Alphabet would help Nest with resources and freedom, but then reports emerged that Nest wasn’t meeting internal targets.
Last month, Nest began using Google’s two-factor authentication on its thermostats to help secure them from hackers. The same two-factor authentication technology will be included on cameras. Veron says Nest products will keep drawing on Google’s AI in a way that just might make a smart home actually smart.
“We have a whole roadmap ahead of us,” Veron said. “There is a lot that we will be doing together in the future.”