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16 Mar '15

Google's vision of a smart home, home security and what role Dropcam will play

Posted by Jonathan Goodman

Warning: The below article contains excessive use of the word 'smart'

Now that Dropcam is 'part of the nest family' and therefore ultimately a mosaic piece in the Google empire, we at Dropcessories are just as curious as anyone else to find out what's next for Dropcam.

Dropcam was bought for US$555m - a hefty sum in nominal term. However, the relative valuation is even more astonishing: Dropcam sold for 10x its annual revenue. This indicates that Google attached enormous value to Dropcam - beyond the cash flow the young company was generating at the time. 

But what role does Dropcam play in Google's long term strategic considerations to create a 'smart' (and hopefully secure) home?

A recent patent application by Google may shed some light on the question.

The patent outlines how the nest thermostat, Dropcam and other smart devices will turn your house into a smart and hopefully secure home. 

The patent tries to cover all the bases and vaguely outlines all the things in a house that can be made smarter: electric sockets, light switches, doorknobs, doorbells and many more. 

Smart switches and wall plugs

Smart wall switches and smart wall plug Google Nest Dropcam patent

Smart wall switches and wall plug may detect 'ambient lighting conditions and control a power and/or dim state of one or more lights. In some instances, smart wall switches 108 may also control a power state or speed of a fan, such as a ceiling fan. The smart wall plugs control supply of power to one or more wall plugs (e.g., such that power is not supplied to the plug if nobody is at home)'. 

 This could dramatically reduce a home's energy consumption without impacting the residents' habits. 

Smart doorbells

Smart door bell Google Nest Dropcam patent

'The smart doorbell 106 can recognize a registered occupant approaching the door and instruct the smart doorknob to automatically unlock. ...Occupants can use a registered mobile device to remotely unlock the door. For example, if when inside the home, the occupant receives notice from the smart doorbell 106 that a trusted neighbor is approaching the door, the occupant can use a mobile device to unlock the door so the neighbor can let himself or herself in. Alternatively, the occupant can speak an audible command instructing the smart doorknob to unlock. According to some embodiments, the smart doorknob includes a remote controlled electronic motor that turns the spindle 1404 to disengage the latch 1406 of the doorknob from the strike plate 1410 of the door stop 1414. Accordingly, the smart doorknob is able to automatically open the door, without the user having to touch the doorknob.'

Smart doorknobs

Smart doorknob Google Nest Dropcam patent


The smart doorbell and the smart doorknob will finally enable mankind to see who is at the door and open it without having to move away from the TV. An outdoor Dropcam with face recognition software may very play a vital role in notifying owners about who is at the door.

Google's vision extends beyond individual homes. Ultimately, whole neighborhoods of 'smart homes' should be interconnected.  

Smart neighborhood 

Smart neighborhood Google Nest Dropcam patent

This would be particularly helpful for security reasons by linking all smart homes collectively to police stations, fire departments and other emergency services.


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