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Home device maker Nest Labs adding Google facial recognition to doorbell, rolling out security system

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Home device maker Nest Labs is adding Google's facial recognition technology to a camera-equipped doorbell and rolling out a security system in an attempt to end its history of losses. (KGO-TV)

Long before Google acquired Nest, co-founder Matt Rogers says he and his team had big dreams.

"When Nest was founded seven years ago, we started with a thermostat," he told a room full of reporters in an event held at San Francisco's Contemporary Jewish Museum. "But our mission has always been much greater. Our mission is to create a home that takes care of the people inside it and the world around it."

So after putting smarts into thermostats, smoke alarms and security cameras, Nest revealed the next place it wants to make waves: the home alarm system.

"Can you think of a better industry for us to disrupt?" product marketing head Maximie Veron asked the crowd.

That disruption will come this November, in the form of a $500 home alarm system you can install yourself. Nest Secure is built to work with your smartphone, and with all the other Nest products the company hopes you'll buy if you haven't already. Nest Secure product manager Sophie Le Guen explained the focus was on making a confusing product into a friendly one.



"We realized that the majority of false alarms are actually created by people not knowing how to arm and disarm," Le Guen said.

The alarm system comes with only one type of sensor called Nest Detect. It's a magnetic door and window sensor that's also a motion detector. In a video shown during the unveiling engineers described building the tiny device as "like taming a dragon."

CNET Senior Associate Editor Megan Wollerton says the announcement is kind of a big deal.

"Up until now, Nest has been focusing on a lot of stand-alone devices," she said. "A single security camera for the inside or outside of your house... but now, you have a whole home system."

Nest also unveiled other products at the San Francisco event, including a smart doorbell named Hello.



Hello combines the brains of Nest's artificial intelligence-powered NestCam IQ with the body of a video doorbell -- including a camera designed to work under shady front porches and provide a view of packages left on the stoop. The camera and the brains are always on.

"You want to make sure that you get an alert not just when somebody pushes the doorbell, but when they don't push the doorbell," said Nest product manager Sahana Mysore, "so you know if there's somebody loitering in your yard."

Nest expanded its other camera offerings to include an outdoor version of NestCam IQ, with a 4K sensor whose digital zoom can see clearly across the yard.

"It can tell me from 50 feet away if there's a stranger in my driveway, or if it's just my babysitter," said Nest security products general manager Michele Turner.

Nest also introduced a keyless lock built in partnership with Yale. It can disarm the Nest Secure system automatically when it's unlocked, and secure the house again when you leave, with only a firm press of your palm.

"It changes your life," said product manager Jesse Boettcher. "You don't have to think about, 'Do I have my keys?' when you leave the house. You just leave."

Click here to follow Jonathan Bloom on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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