Nest Cam IQ hands-on review

Nest Labs is adding Google's facial recognition technology to a high-resolution home-security camera, offering a glimpse of a future in which Internet-connected computers can analyze what is happening in people's homes. The software is also created to distinguish between a person and, say, a pet or a shadow on the wall, before it sends an alert. The $299 camera detects when a person walks by, then zooms in and follows them to capture a clear shot. That means even if it knows your houseguest's name is Kato, it won't recognize him by name if he walks in front of someone else's Nest camera. You can also speak through your smartphone and have it broadcast via the Cam IQ. Firstly the camera can identify if there is actually a person in its field of view, as opposed to a pet or just a shadow, since it's smarter than the simple movement sensors that some home security cameras use.

The new camera is called Nest Cam IQ, and on the surface, it isn't all that different to the Nest Indoor or Outdoor Camera that came before it.

The camera is available for pre-orders now and will start shipping at the end of June. Two 940-nanometer infrared LEDs allow for video images in the dark without the red glow that accompanies many nighttime images.

The camera also has a powerful speaker baked-in, along with three microphones with echo and noise suppression. That'll be added to Nest Cam Indoor and Nest Cam Outdoor users with paying for Nest Aware too; like them, subscribers with Nest Cam IQ will also get 10- or 30-day video history, clip and timelapse creation, and the ability to set activity zones in the frame.

Nest's $10 monthly subscription plans includes video storage for 10 days.

Netatmo introduced a security camera touting a similar facial recognition system in 2015. That last part might not be your favorite, but $299 (or $499 for 2) is what it'll cost you to get this device. However, some of the new features exclusive to the Nest Cam IQ do utilize the 4K input before it's compressed. Fortunately there are home security products that make life tough for the bad guys.

Thoughtful Design. Nest Cam IQ features a clean white polycarbonate design with a patented swivel mount for flexibility of placement and quick, simple setup.

I was initially sceptical about the need for the Cam IQ's 4K sensor and HDR, even if it does mean you do a proper 12x "zoom, enhance" on a burglar's face to see details like eye colour.

The high-end camera supplements lower-resolution indoor and outdoor cameras that Nest will continue to sell for nearly US$200.

This functionality is free but the "familiar face" feature costs extra. There's also "Intelligent audio alerts", which can automatically detect and alert you of a dog barking or someone talking.

Nest Cam IQ is available now for pre-order in the with a suggested retail price of $299 Dollars for one camera, and $498 USD for a two-pack.

Home-friendly looks aside, the Nest Cam IQ is also mighty powerful. Will Nest's smart camera work?

  • Carolyn Briggs