Nest Cam IQ Can Tell Difference Between People and Pets

The latest home security camera from Nest is ready to show off some serious smarts. The $299 Nest Cam IQ, unveiled by the Google-owned smart home devices maker today (May 31), is capable of detecting the difference between a person and a pet, sending you an alert about the latter all by itself.

Nest Cam IQ (Credit:Philip Michaels/Tom's Guide)

Nest Cam IQ (Credit:Philip Michaels/Tom's Guide)

That person detection feature is available to Nest's current indoor and outdoor cameras, of course, but only if those cameras are also supported by a Nest Aware subscription. The Nest Cam IQ has the processing oomph to run person detection algorithms locally.

More on-board smarts may be the Nest Cam IQ's calling card — it is part of the name, after all — but that's not the only highlight to this 4.9 x 2.9 x 2.9-inch indoor security camera. Nest Cam IQ also boasts a 4K sensor with high dynamic range (HDR) imaging. The camera won't be streaming 4K video to your phone — it produces 1080p output — but the images I saw in a demo of the Nest Cam IQ are crystal clear, even when you zoom in.

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Specifically, Nest Cam IQ supports 12x digital zoom and enhance, giving you (and police) a clear look at anyone inside your home who shouldn't be there. When Maxime Veron, Nest's director of product marketing, was showing me the zoom feature, I could make out the titles of books stacked on a fireplace across the room.

"This is zoom and enhance, CSI-style," Veron told me.

Credit: Nest

(Image credit: Nest)

Other camera features include a 130-degree view, along with a picture-in-picture feature that provides close-up tracking. A pair of 940nm infrared LEDs support night vision viewing.

The Nest Cam IQ uses a 3-mic array to support HD talk and listen, with Veron promising a 7x improvement over the speakers in the original Nest Cam. At launch, audio features will still follow a walkie-talkie approach, where you push a button each time you want to talk, but a software update this sumer will bring full duplex audio, meaning you'll just have to press a button once to talk, as you would in a Google Hangout.

Holding the Nest Cam IQ in my hand, I was surprised by how weighty the base of the 12.6-ounce camera felt. The weighted base makes it harder to knock over, Veron says, since the camera is designed to rest on a bookshelf or tabletop. (You do have the option of mounting the camera to a tripod if you prefer.) A cable fits snugly into the base at an angle, which will make it easy to keep the Nest Cam IQ's wire out of view.

Video captured by the Nest Cam IQ is encrypted using 128-bit AES with a TLS/SSL secure connection before it's streamed or stored. You have the option of enabling two-step verification with your Nest account.

The Nest Cam IQ may be capable of detecting the difference between people and pets without Nest Aware, but you'll still need to use Nest's subscription service if you want alerts for recognized faces — your kid arriving home safely from school, for example — or audio alerts for off-camera activity like a person talking or a dog barking. (Audio alerts will also be available to Nest Cam Indoor and Outdoor users who have a Nest Aware account.) Nest Aware starts at $10 a month (or $100 a year) for cloud storage of 10 days of video history.

Nest is taking orders on the Nest Cam IQ now, with two-camera packs available for a discounted $498. The camera will ship in June when it joins the Nest Cam Indoor and Nest Cam Outdoor in the company's lineup of security cameras.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.