Nest Is Applying IoT Know-How to Home Security

The makers of the Smart Theromstat are taking a new approach. Will a new suite of IoT-based home security products be the smart home market breakthrough Nest has been looking for?

A year ago we wondered if Nest might become the first high-profile failure in the consumer Internet of Things (IoT) market. But now the company is aiming for a comeback with the release of a suite of new products aimed at applying Nest's IoT know-how to home security.

Bill as being “easy on residents, tough on intruders” the new system, Nest Secure, is being touted by the company as being a home security system that is easy (and even enjoyable) to live with. The Nest Secure alarm system consists of three devices: Nest Guard, a security base that is a combination alarm, keypad, and motion sensor; Nest Detect, a motion sensor capable of detecting movement in a room and also when an object it is attached to, such as a door or window, is open or shut; and Nest Tag a keychain fob that allows homeowners to arm and disarm Nest Secure without a passcode, similar to a car's keyless entry system.

Nest Secure can link a series of motion sensors and cameras throughout the home to your smartphone. (Image source: Nest)

“When we looked at the home security market, we saw a similar landscape to when we entered the thermostat market,” Matt Rogers, Founder and Chief Product Officer of Nest, said in a press statement. “Just as people tend not to use programmable thermostats because of their complexity, the current home security offerings are also a huge pain to live with – whether it’s bulky hardware, false alarms or loud and stressful countdowns.” Citing a 2013 survey by Nationwide Insurance, Rogers added that 43 percent of people with alarm systems don't ever arm them because of the inconvenience and hassle. “We set out to design a product that isn’t just effective during a security incident, but is delightful and easy to use when people are at home with their families, living their lives, which is the vast majority of the time.”

Homeowners can control access to their home in three ways using Nest Secure: they can program Nest Tags to allow entry; grant entry through a smartphone app; or enter a passcode into the Nest Guard. Like Nest's signature smart thermostat product the security system sends updates and notifications to your smartphone. The Nest Guard also has a battery backup and optional cellular backup service, so the system will function even if there is no power or WiFi available.

For additional security Nest also announced two other products a Video Doorbell and a Google Assistant-enabled outdoor security camera. The Nest Hello Video Doorbell can detect people at your door (before they ring the bell) and will send an alert and snapshot of your visitor to your phone. From there you can even have a FaceTime-like video chat with them through your phone.

The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is the outdoor equivalent to the company's indoor camera released earlier this year. “Instead of just showing what’s happening, [the camera] will deliver critical, actionable information via an alert – like spotting someone unfamiliar in the yard – so users know that the alert is important,” the company said. Nest is also adding Google Assistant functionality to its indoor cameras which will allow users to ask questions, manage tasks, and control other devices in their home by speaking to the security camera.

Nest's suite of IoT-enabled security products also includes the Hello Video Doorbell (top) and the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor (below). (Image source: Nest)

Founded in 2010 as Nest Labs, Nest first caught attention after a successful Kickstarter campaign of its smart thermostat that let allowed users to remotely program and control their home temperature via smartphone. In 2014 Google (now Alphabet) acquired Nest for $3.2 billion in cash. Shortly after this Nest made its first play into the home security market by acquiring Dropcam, a startup that produced WiFi-enabled cameras for video streaming, for $555 million.

As recently as 2016 however, analysts were questioning the viability of Nest both because of the overall lack of hype being generated by the smart home market and because of reports of internal tumult between employees of Nest, Google, and Dropcam.

While IoT has time and again shown its value proposition in the industrial setting, consumers are still wondering if applying it to your home provides enough reward for the cost. It's nice to be able to control your thermostat and lights via your smartphone, but do these things really attack any sort of pain point for homeowners?

Has Nest finally found an arena where it can achieve a significant market share? A report released in March by MarketsandMarkets forecast the US security solutions market to be worth $372.90 billion by 2022. According to the report, “The growth of the security solutions market is driven by factors such as the necessity to safeguard individuals as well as property from rapidly evolving threats, increasing consumer awareness and security concerns, willingness to pay for security systems, growing demand for the deployment of wireless technology in security systems, and adoption of IoT-based security systems.”

If IoT-based security systems become a key driver in the security solutions market Nest (and Alphabet by extension) could find itself becoming a major player. However if consumer demand isn't there. or IoT-based security doesn't show itself to be significantly more effective than current options. Nest could find itself being at the head of another revolution that wasn't.

Nest Secure will be available in the US in November and in Europe and Canada in 2018. It will have a suggested retail price of $499 for a starter pack that includes Nest Guard, two Nest Detects ($59 each) and two Nest Tags ($25 each). A Nest Secure with additional Nest Cam Outdoor will retail for $698. Cellular backup service will cost $5 per month or $50 annually.


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Chris Wiltz is a senior editor at Design News covering emerging technologies, including VR/AR, AI, and robotics.

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