After finding smart home fame with a smoke alarm and thermostat, it was only a matter of time before Nest introduced its own take on the home security system. And sure enough, at a launch event in San Francisco this week the world got its first look at Nest Secure.
With a combination of three main components - Nest Guard (the centrepiece), Nest Tag and Nest Detect - Nest Secure is designed to make sure nobody successfully breaks into your house and gets away with it. As is the case with everything Nest, you control the whole system through its app, relying on motion sensors and secret codes to inform you straight away about any suspicious activity.
It’s a big upgrade on the decidedly dumb alarm you’ve got right now, but only if you’re willing to drop $499 (S$675) for the starter pack. So how does it work? We've seen it in action for all the burglar-proof details.
Design: alarmingly attractive
Security systems are usually pretty hideous things made of cheap plastic, sitting on your wall just waiting to be tricked into action by a rogue spider. Still... nobody needs a sexy alarm, right? Nest reckons otherwise.
Chief amongst its crew of sleek white portectors is the Nest Guard. Puckish in form (think the Echo dot, but blown up slightly), it sits on a surface rather than attaching to your wall. On the top you have an LED ring and a keypad of entirely plain buttons that illuminate with numbers when you need them to. The thing is packed to the brim with tech - motion sensors, NFC, Bluetooth LE, WiFi, LTE, backup battery, speaker - but on the surface it’s all about minimalism. So far, so very Nest then.
Next we have the Nest Detect, an adhesive magnet and sensor that you place next to windows and doors. It looks a bit like a lipstick, with a button at the bottom that you click to notify the system it’s you opening and closing things, rather than an intruder. These Detect sensors have been designed to blend into the background, and Nest assures us they’ll stick to pretty much any surface without issue.
The final piece of the puzzle? That's the Nest Tag, which resembles two giant white chocolate buttons smashed together. You get two Tags with the Secure's starter kit and they're best used as keyrings so their embedded NFC chips allow you to arm and disarm the Nest Guard as you come and go.
Combined, all these devices are well thought out and just feel more intuitive in action than a traditional home security setup. It also helps that both Nest Detect and Tag are built to last. Silicon parts protect the sensors from heat damage, while the little key fob won’t be troubled by a dunk in the sink.
Usability: on guard at all times
Once you’ve established your new security system, it works exactly as you’d expect it to. When leaving the house, you can arm the Secure by pressing a button or - the easiest way - by tapping your Nest Tag just before you walk through the door. It’s the same deal for disarming, only this time anyone without a Tag handy will be asked to enter the code in a period of time that you can determine. Knowing how much children enjoy wildly mashing buttons, Nest also gives you the option of requiring a passcode for arming. Wise.
I had a good play around with the various input options and they all worked perfectly. The ability to deactivate the alarm with the Tag is more convenient than entering a code, not to mention a godsend for anyone prone to forgetting theirs. I also really like how the keypad only appears when you’re unable to tag.
Nest is great at making its products talk to one another, and with Nest Secure that communication is key. The main hub is capable of motion detection for a distance of 10ft, or 15ft for Nest Detect. You can tell the Nest Guard not to react to movement (more on that in a bit), while the Quiet Open feature lets you temporarily bypass the alarm by pressing a button on the Detect before you make your silent exit. But otherwise failure to enter the code in the allotted time (anything from 30 seconds to five minutes) will result in the alarm going off.
And what an alarm it is. Set at 85 dB (the volume can’t be altered), I was assured by a member of the team that "it’s pretty uncomfortably loud”. Confirmation came when someone in the room accidentally triggered it. Put it this way: burglars aren’t going to hang around in this racket. It should be noted that unless you invest in one of Nest’s cameras, you won’t be getting the most out of this technology. Alerts about strange movements in your house are much more useful when you can see exactly what’s happening. Add a Nest Cam IQ into the mix and an already pricey security system just got a whole lot more expensive.
Is the outlay worth it in the long run? Nest obviously thinks so, and their research seems pretty conclusive that would be wrong-doers are put right off by this stuff.