Nest, Google's connected home products maker, has revealed a new set of products including a home security camera that costs £159.
Home security cameras are becoming increasingly commonplace, with most big tech companies unveiling their own versions of them. But the Google-owned company hopes that its new technologies — including 1080p video and a special app for recording and processing images — will be able to justify its much higher price tag.
The company also unveiled updates to its other products, a smart thermostat and smoke alarm, including new apps for controlling them.
The gadgets are Nest's biggest product updates since Google bought the Palo Alto, California, 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.
Google and other technology companies will still need to overcome people's concerns about protecting their privacy before automated homes become commonplace.
The Dropcam is changing its name to the Nest Cam as part of an upgrade that will feature higher-definition video, a sleeker design, a stand with a magnet that can be connected to refrigerators and better infrared technology for recording images in the dark. It will be available in the UK, Ireland, France, Netherlands and Belgium.
Nest is also offering a monthly subscription service that will store up to 10 days of video, send alerts about suspicious activity and bundle up to three hours of clips likely to be of the most interest to the home occupants.
Nest's next-generation smoke detector will have more sophisticated sensors for sniffing out fires and a 10-year lifespan, up from seven years. The device also will perform automatic tests each month to ensure its speaker and horn are working properly. As with the original version of the smoke alarm, it will announce a potential problem in an automated voice before resorting to a loud alarm. It will sell for $99.
In the US, the company will be promoting the smoke alarm through tie-ups with two insurers. Customers of Liberty Mutual and American Family will get a 5 per cent discount if they get the devices install and let the insurers see information from them monthly.
The company seemed to indicate that the rewards programme would be rolling out to other countries later.
Nest also is providing a free software upgrade to its first product, an Internet-connected thermostat, introduced four years ago. The update will enable the thermostat to turn off a furnace when Nest's smoke detector discovers an unsafe level of carbon.
Additional reporting by Associated PressReuse content