Google unveils ‘smartest ever’ Nest cameras and doorbell

New devices include on-device processing to help protect privacy

The new Nest line-up.

Google has unveiled its next generation Nest smarthome line-up, claiming its cameras and doorbells are its smartest yet.

The new Nest Hello, indoor camera and outdoor cameras include on-device processing to improve privacy and more intelligent AI to cut down on unnecessary alerts.

They will also have some features previously reserved for subscribers to the Nest Aware service out of the box, including package and person alerts.

The updated line up includes a redesigned Nest Hello doorbell, a battery powered Nest indoor camera, a wired indoor camera and an outdoor Nestcam that include floodlights for enhanced security.


The new Nest Hello adds battery power for the first time, making it compatible with every home. Although home owners can still hook the doorbell up to a wired power source, the battery option will give users around three months of use before needing to recharge.

The new cameras’ local storage will provide a safety net should the internet connection go down, ensuring that footage is stored safely on the devices.

"They are our smartest devices in terms of doorbells and cameras ever," Google Nest product manager Felix Senepin said. "We wanted to expand on loved features like person detection, and bringing more helpful alerts and event recordings to our users."

Because the devices process images on the camera instead of sending it to the cloud, they can offer advanced features out of the box. That means the ability to detect important events that happen in and around the home, the creation of custom zones, and alerts for people, animals and vehicles. However, unnecessary notifications caused by cars, trees or snow fall would be eliminated.

Differentiating between dogs and cats

The advanced hardware allows the cameras to run machine learning models up to 7.5 times per second, making the devices more reliable and accurate.

The software can detect nine object classes, and are even able to differentiate between dogs and cats. To train the algorithms, Google used more than 40 million images, including 25 million synthetic images, partnering with Google Research and Unity to create lifelike environments. More than 2.5 million synthetic cats were created to mimic the animals’ shapes and positions.

The ultimate goal is to cut down on notification overload for consumers and create what Mr Senepin described as “human centred technology” .

“We needed to have have devices that could fit both indoor and outdoor environment. Technology often looks intimidating and we wanted to make sure that the devices would blend into your home,” he said.

“For users who set off on their connected home journey, they usually start off with a couple of devices. They expect those devices to work seamlessly together as well as being controllable from one place. They also want these devices to be customisable because they want the devices to fit their unique needs and lifestyle. That needs to be easy to do and not a hassle.”

Google will still offer the Nest Aware subscription to give owners access to 24/7 video history and events for between five and 10 days, instead of the three-hour window provided out of the box.


The company said it was conscious of user privacy. Nest Hello owners can no longer disable the status light that alerts people that someone is watching the live feed. Footage that is sent to the cloud is encrypted in transit, and while stored in data centres.

“[Privacy and security] is one of the first things we thought of when building these devices, especially as they are devices with a camera. We wanted to be thoughtful about it,” Mr Senepin said. “All our devices’ hardware has something called Secure Boot, which ensures that the software they are running is authorised. That’s an added layer of security we’ve built in.”

The new battery-powered Nest Cam and Nest Doorbell are available for preorder and will go on sale on August 24th. Nest Cam with Floodlight and the new wired indoor Nest Cam will be available later in the year.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist