The Nest Hello is probably my most-used piece of smart home tech. It works as a security camera, an intercom and, alongside my Nest x Yale door lock, a way to let people into my house when I’m not there. It’s great.
But like many smart doorbells, it can’t do anything about packages left at the door — a practice that, with drivers from Amazon, UPS, FedEx and other delivery companies increasingly pressed for time during busy shifts, is occuring with more frequency these days. UPS drivers ring my doorbell and leave my package on my front step. FedEx doesn’t even do me the courtesy of ringing the bell so I have to scrub through my timeline like an animal to check when something was delivered, or stolen.
After nearly 18 months on the market, Nest is upgrading its smart doorbell with a new feature: package tracking. Rolling out today in the U.S., the company says that with its existing Activity Zones feature, which lets you draw an area of the cameras field of view to patrol, it will detect when a package has been dropped off and, separately, when it’s been picked up.
The update will notify users through the Nest app, which last week separately started prompting people to migrate to a Google account as part of the Nest/Google integration. Package detection will be on by default, and users can disable it if they choose.
Of course, package tracking is only as good as the camera’s field of view, and I know that even with the included angled wedge installed on my unit my Nest Hello still can’t see most of the packages left on my doorstep. Nest says that users should make sure to install the wedge, remove objects blocking the camera’s view, and make sure that lighting in the area is good, but if the camera can’t see the floor, the feature is all but useless.
Competitors like Maximum have seen this problem head-on by putting our connected doorbells with two cameras, one that faces the person at the door and the other pointing straight down at the ground. It’s unclear if Nest’s follow-up product will offer the same feature, or potentially include a lens with a wider field of view.
The update is rolling out now to Nest Hello owners in the U.S. The company isn’t saying if or when it’s coming to other countries, but I have no doubt it’ll happen eventually.
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