Despite much talk of the “internet of things”, most web-connected devices have been screens of some sort - phones, computers or TVs. Now, though, a second wave of smart products are upon us, and many of them are focusing on security.
Nest, owned by Google, has a collection of cameras and alarms which connect to the internet, relaying information to your phone:
Nest Cam IQ security camera
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
The IQ name badge suggests that this is no ordinary webcam, and rightly so: the Nest Cam is a smart way to keep an eye on your home while you’re away.
After a straightforward set-up, the video feed can be monitored on either the Nest or Google Home apps, which will send you notifications when the camera detects something it thinks you should know about. You can train it to recognise and ignore friends and family, alerting you only when it sees or hears a stranger, or choose to be notified of any noise or movement. A speaker allows you to talk back to an intruder, warning them that you’ve called the police.
The HD video feed is clear and sharp even in the dark, thanks to infrared night vision, and the prospect of identifying a suspect is improved by the camera’s ability to zoom in on anyone it sees. Three hours of footage is stored in the app by default, or you can extend the storage to five days for £4 a month or 30 days for £24 a month.
Nest Cam IQ, £299 (indoors) or £329 (outdoors)
Nest Hello doorbell
The sleek Nest Hello replaces your existing doorbell with a smart camera that keeps an eye on who’s approaching the front door - and lets you talk to visitors even if you’re not at home. It requires mains power and can be connected to an existing doorbell chime (or a Google Home Hub), so professional installation is recommended.
Once up and running, the camera works in much the same way as the Nest Cam IQ, streaming video to your phone and alerting you when it spots someone (you can turn off these notifications if you live on a busy street, otherwise your phone will be constantly abuzz).
When someone presses the bell, an alert is sent to your phone with an image of the caller. You can then speak to him or her through your phone from anywhere in the world with a wi-fi connection, arranging for deliveries to be left somewhere safe, for example.
Image quality is excellent, day and night, and the 4:3 format lets you see more of the caller and what they might be carrying than the more usual widescreen image. The wide-angle lens covers a wide sweep of whatever’s in front of your door. Nest Aware recording plans are available for the Nest Hello too, priced as above.
Nest Hello, £229 or £329 with professional installation
Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm
With security taken care of, the next risk to address is fire. The Nest Protect smoke detector, which also senses deadly carbon monoxide, is more subtle and sophisticated than the typical smoke alarm, which shrieks indiscriminately whatever the problem.
The Nest Protect can distinguish between steam and smoke, ignoring the former and informing you of the latter with a spoken warning, telling you what is happening where - and an alert on your phone. If it does turn out to be a false alarm, you can silence it from your phone,, without having to resort to a flapping tea towel.
It also promises an end to the dreaded midnight chirping of a smoke alarm with dying batteries. Instead it sends a notification to your phone in plenty of time to get replacements (or you can opt for a wired version which connects to the mains).
Nest Protect, £109
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.