Nest just announced its first new product since Google acquired it for $US3.2 billion last year: A new smart camera called the Nest Cam.
Nest Cam comes about a year after the company bought Wi-fi camera startup Dropcam for $US555 million and marks the first real product integration between the two companies.
The new device is a marked improvement over the last version of Dropcam, with higher resolution video, better night vision, improved audio capabilities and a sleeker hardware and app design.
But for all its new features, there’s one big disappointment: You still can’t use a Nest Cam outside. The camera is rated for indoor use only, which means it can’t be exposed to water or extreme cold or heat.
Before the marriage of Dropcam and Nest, a weatherproof camera was one of the most popular product requests:
Nest even made it clear late last year that it was still getting lots of requests for an outdoor camera:
Most people place Dropcams — and will place Nest Cams — around inside their houses. Then, through an app, they can constantly watch a live-stream video feed or get alerts when there are movements or loud noises.
For example, people have caught burglars breaking into their houses after getting push notifications from their cameras.
But a lot of people would also like to place their camera outside, to monitor their yard, driveway, or garage. Although you could point an indoor Nest Cam out a window, that doesn’t work at night, because the night vision mode uses infrared LED bulbs, which can cause reflections from windows. A feed full of shiny window reflections isn’t exactly helpful.
When people realised that the new Nest Cam still couldn’t be used outside, there were some grumblings on Twitter:
When asked about why Nest didn’t integrate weather-proofing into its new camera — whether because of technical feasibility or something else — a spokesperson said that the company is excited about the new features that it did add and that there is lots of room for more in the future.
Nest is run by CEO Tony Fadell, who doubles as the lead for Google Glass. Dropcam founder Greg Duffy left Nest last January.
The lack of Dropcam and Nest Cams outdoor compatibility gives other smart cameras an opportunity to step in.
When Panasonic first announced its Dropcam competitor Nubo back in March, the company exec Business Insider talked to stressed how the device was “outdoor ready” more than almost anything else.
Another company that’s probably happy about Nest’s decision to forgo waterproofing is Dropcases, a company that specialises in a variety of different outdoor cases for Dropcams.
Learn more about the Nest Cam in this demo vid: