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Nest Wants To Disrupt The Doorbell

You can keep an eye on any delivered mail from the comfort of your smartphone.

Opportunity makes the thief–and there’s no opportunity quite like seeing a stack of Amazon boxes outside someone’s house.

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The more we order food, clothing, and household items online, the more we need security around our front doors. Nest, the internet of things company best known for its smart thermostat, today announced a new doorbell that senses if someone’s at the door, takes a photo of him or her, and sends a notification–even if the person doesn’t ring the doorbell at all. Its 160-degree-view lets it keep an eye on packages sitting on the ground.

[Photo: courtesy Nest]
Called the Nest Hello Video Doorbell, it’s part of a suite of security products, including an alarm system, sensors, and cameras that are all connected via the Nest app. The Nest Hello, like the company’s other cameras, allows you to see and talk to people at your front door even if you’re not home.

A smart doorbell might sound silly–you still have to get up to open the door even if the doorbell tells you who’s there. Besides, knowing your friend has arrived is what texting is for. But Nest has a knack for imbuing utilitarian, often unloved household objects with smart UX. And at Nest’s keynote in San Francisco today, Michele Turner, general manager of security products, claimed, “It is the product that customers have been asking us for. It’s our No. 1 most requested product.”

You can imagine why. Existing security cameras often give an eagle’s eye view of a home but overlook the last foot or so of your entryway. With Nest Hello, you have a security camera and home assistant in one. Say UPS rings the doorbell to drop off a package, and you aren’t home. You get a notification on your phone and can instruct him, either personally through doorbell’s microphone or through a precanned message, to leave the package at the door.

The industrial design is typically sleek. There’s a  traditional circular button–to let the home’s occupant know you’ve arrived–at the bottom of the ovalular device, with a camera at the top. The overall look has enough nods to the average non-smart doorbell that anyone would know how to use it.

[Photo: courtesy Nest]
Of course, a determined burglar could probably still disable the device (I doubt it’s smart enough to withstand being smashed by a rock). And if your friends stop by, and you’re not home, it’s probably easier for them to just call you than for your Nest Hello to stream a video of them standing in front of your door to your phone. There’s also no price yet for the system–though, like all of Nest’s products, it’s likely to be expensive. The company says the Nest Hello will start shipping in early 2018.

About the author

Katharine Schwab is a contributing writer at Co.Design based in New York who covers technology, design, and culture.

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