In the two years since Nest was acquired by Google, the company hasn’t released a new hardware product, besides an updated version of a camera it inherited with the Dropcam acquisition. Yet several products are in development, many of which revolve around a home security system. If released, these products could further shake up the home security market, which is becoming more competitive. Similar products like the iSmartAlarm, the Piper and the Scout home monitoring systems have all sprung up and are being sold on Amazon and at BestBuy.
Below are some of the products Nest is developing and one that Google is planning, according to people with knowledge of the plans. We detailed these and more in a lengthy profile of the company and its CEO Tony Fadell (see accompanying story). Nest declined to comment on its product roadmap and Google also didn't have a comment.
Flintstone—Wireless hub and the brains of Nest’s security system
Nest has struggled with how to make an Internet-connected security system using its Thread radio, a wireless standard it developed to allow devices to talk to each other. The main benefits of Thread is that it uses very little battery power and can travel longer distances than the current Bluetooth radios. The problem with Thread is that it’s not a common standard. Most home WiFi routers can’t communicate with Thread devices. So in order to connect small, battery-powered devices to the internet using Thread, Nest needs an intermediary device to receive the Thread signal and then send it on to a WiFi router. That intermediary is Flintstone, which Nest has been working on for roughly three years.
Pinna—Wireless security sensors
Pinna sensors can tell when windows and doors open, but Nest wants them to be a lot more high tech than the sensors that come with traditional home security systems. For one, Pinna will use Nest’s Thread standard, a low-powered wireless radio that has the long range attributes of WiFi and the battery-saving properties of Bluetooth. Pinna will connect to a hub-like device, code named Flintstone, which will then send Pinna signals to and from home WiFi routers so they’ll be connected to the Internet.
Keshi is a mobile sensor that could be attached to, say, a keychain and serve lots of purposes. Keshi, integrated with Nest’s system using Thread Radio, could operate like a smart key fob, the way high end car keys automatically unlock doors when a driver approaches.
The possibilities of Keshi are pretty far reaching. Nest’s security system could automatically arm itself when everyone leaves the house. Smart door locks could automatically lock and unlock. These are difficult technology problems to solve, however, and it’s unclear when Keshi will launch.
Google’s voice recognition device (Competes with Amazon Echo)
Google is working on a device to compete directly with Amazon’s popular Echo, a voice-controlled personal assistant and portable speaker.
Nest wanted to be part of the project within Google but was rebuffed by the person in charge of Google’s project.
Google already employs technology similar to Echo in its Android mobile operating system and it makes sense to bring that expertise into the home, where Google and Nest are competing head on with Amazon, Apple and countless other companies. It’s unclear when Google will release the device and there’s still a chance it won't be released at all.