Nest is mostly known for its learning thermostat and there’s a reason for that – the company hasn’t really done much else since. Sure, the Nest Protect is a unique product that is loved by its users, but it came out in 2013 and wasn’t quite as sexy as the thermostat. Then last year the company announced the Nest Cam, but that’s hardly an original product – just a slightly redesigned and re badged Dropcam, a company Nest acquired in 2014.
Three products are supposedly under development by the Alphabet-owned smart home manufacturer, codenamed Flintstone, Pinna and Keshi.
Flintstone is reportedly a wireless hub that would connect a Wi-Fi router to a series of Internet-connected devices – think of something like the SmartThings Hub on steroids. While little is known about Flintstone, reports suggest that it will use the Thread networking protocol – something Nest has been pushing since 2014.
Thread is already supported by a number of manufacturers, including Samsung, Yale, ARM, Freescale, Silicon Labs and Big Ass Fans, but unlike Z-Wave or ZigBee, it hasn’t really taken off. Nest’s Flintstone could change that however.
As part of its push for Thread, Nest is supposedly working on an assortment of sensors that would bolster its home security credentials and enable it to compete with the likes of ADT and Yale. These sensors currently carry the codename ‘Pinna’, but little else is known about them.
It’s believed that installers would be able to strategically place the sensors in entryways to alert users, or possibly even law enforcement, when doors or windows are opened – or when movement is detected when it’s not supposed to be.
Of course Nest’s home security system could be superior to ADT’s for one particular reason – it will truly be smart. By combining its sensors with the Nest Cam, the company could allow users to see who is in their house before deciding if it’s a job for law enforcement or not.
Home security systems are also lucrative business. ADT often charges monthly fees for maintaining its alarm system – something Nest desperately needs to replicate, as the company’s financial performance has come under criticism as of late.
With sales of the thermostat and smoke detector reportedly flat lining and the only product seemingly doing well for Nest being its camera, it’s a little surprising to see Nest CEO Tony Faddell criticising Dropcam’s former employees. That’s exactly what he did however, according to The Information.
Faddell has also been criticised for his leadership style – with the former Apple exec delaying product releases until they’re fully polished, a technique he learnt from Apple (a company that has also be criticised for its slow innovation).
In fact, look at Nest’s recent product releases and it’s painfully obvious that Faddell is really taking a leaf from Apple’s play book. All of its recent releases, bar the Nest Cam, have been iterative updates to its products – something Apple does regularly with the iPhone, iPad and Mac line-up.
That’s in direct contrast to Google, Nest’s sister company, which is consistently trying new things and is quick to innovate and adapt to changing industry trends, rather uniquely for a large company.
According to former Nest employees, Nest is so slow to release new products that it has been working on Flintstone for over three years and Pinna has also been gestating for a while. In fact, Dropcam was working on a product similar to it, until it was canned after the acquisition.
In order for Nest to take on the likes of ADT and Yale, it needs to have a coherent product strategy that people can trust. At the moment not even many of Nest’s employees trust the company, with Dropcam’s founder claiming that over 500 people have left the company since its founding – with around 50 of Dropcam’s 100 staffers having already left.
Nest will also need to act quickly – ADT and Yale have already begun embracing the smart home, with the latter having released smart locks that work with Samsung’s SmartThings, while the former already works with Nest’s thermostat for recognising when the homeowner is away.
It’s unlikely to happen any time soon however, as one former Nest employee told Re/Code that they would be “surprised if [Nest] launch any hardware this year.”
More from Nest