I'd love to see Google move into home security

By Chris Umiastowski on 27 May 2014 10:03 am

In the world of the Internet of Things, the thought of Google entering the home security market put a smile on my face this morning when I read about the possibility of the mobile and search giant acquiring Dropcam.

When Google bought Nest, it looked like an obvious long term play on home automation. I still feel that Google should be (and probably is) making an effort to control the entire home automation platform, which should also include a home security aspect.

Video is an obvious component of home security, and Google is one of the biggest Internet video companies in the world. I'm talking about YouTube, obviously, but don't get me wrong - I just mean that Google already has the cloud infrastructure in place to store, process and intelligently analyze video. The videos would not be on YouTube, but Google would be able to leverage its existing assets.

Think about what you get in Dropcam now. Live streaming, storage, notification, night vision, zoom, etc. These are obvious features. But think about what could happen if Google got its hands on this business. Every time some kid breaks into a bunch of cars on my street in Toronto I wonder how awesome it would be if my neighbours and I all had just one wireless camera pointing out the front door capturing video 24 hours 7 days a week. Say you review the video and notice a thief coming from the west and leaving to the east after breaking into your car. What if you could feed that information into a cloud based system and Google could automatically compile a multi-camera video of an entire sequence of a thief's movement down your street (and even beyond). I'd think capturing criminals would become easier.

That's just one simple idea I've had stuck in my head for a while. But there's much more to be done and there are tons of people with a lot more smarts than me. Should it not be possible for the "Google security cloud" (just to give it a name) to know whether I'm home or not based on the location of my Google-connected devices and automatically flag a potential event at my house? What if I could set my status to "away" such that proximity sensors on my property could determine that someone was on my land and randomly turned a lamp on or off to make it look like someone is home?

A big part of security is crime prevention. The other part is about crime solving. Google has some of the best maps, mobile apps, cloud computing and video processing capabilities in the world. I'd much rather pay Google a monthly fee to monitor my home compared to any of the home security companies I've checked out in the entire history of paying for this service.

Connectedly readers: What awesome features can you envision from a potential combination of Google and Dropcam? Who else do you think they should consider buying, if anyone?

Reader comments

I'd love to see Google move into home security


The first concern for me would be my privacy. Sure, having security cameras could track villains and culprits, but what else would it log? Would Google know when I come and go? Would that information ever be vulnerable? When I first started to see ads from local businesses in apps on my phone, I was a little taken aback. Sure it's great in theory, but that means google could tell where I was, feed that info to an ad service, and they serve up ads in my locale. If they were to have access to my comings and goings, what else could they do? I don't know if I'm ready to let Google, or any company for that matter, have that much data about me and my life.

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I think it goes without saying that Google would need to have a fair privacy policy in this market, and we'd have to trust them to actually abide by it. Imagine the risk of them being caught violating their own privacy policy.

This is true. They would need to be pretty open and clear in their policies in order for me to accept them. Provided they were leaving our data alone, there's potential for a big company to do home automation right, and Google is a good company to make it happen.

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What? You wouldn't want the world's largest adware company controlling your home security and automation system? What if it was Facebook instead of Google?

If Google had access to cameras everywhere it would start sounding more and more of Max Headroom scenario becoming possible. A well connected person could discover hack in to any camera network and help/guide a reporter through many situations. I seem to recall a report of hoodies and security veils showing up on the street more as more cameras and facial recognition were installed in London.

If Google bought DropCam, home owners (with DropCam already installed) may or may not have peace of mind. Google would know when you would be home and when you would leave the premises. This could help out with Google Now and your daily commute, but could also be very creepy. Google would know that every Saturday morning you are taking your kids to swimming lessons. On the other hand, for the criminals out there who happen to have smartphones and who use Google services, once a home invasion occurs (at a house with DropCam), Google would have the time of entry and record the footage (only if the thief is in the field of view....hopefully the homeowner has lots of DropCam's set up). Now if Google could buy SmartThings, then they would have way more information. Hopefully the homeowner could use this information (when the thief knocked on the door, how long they knocked or stood there, record motion outside the house while all the house lights turn on and the Sonos speakers turned on, blasting music and dogs barking) to help law enforcement. Again, Google would have all this information - I hope that Google too could work with law enforcement to monitor and prevent organized crime. Minority Report, here we come! Another thought....all the Nest products in the home would also tell Google that someone is in the home and for how long.

I would like to see Google purchase SmartThings and then offer complete home automation with Android Wear.

There's going to be a lot of 'big brother' nervousness with this I'm sure, so it'll really come down to how they integrate and how the reality meshes with the possibilities. With Nest they haven't really changed that much. They could just want Dropcams profits. I think its potentially a boon for the product to have the increased cash flow that Google would bring, but we'll have to see

Not a snowballs chance in hell. They cannot be trusted. I don't want them casing my house on top of it.

I agree with you. I also wonder if we are the minority here. There seems to be a lot of Google supporters using Android, and Google Drive / Docs, etc., so I guess the rest of the world wouldn't mind Google casing their house.

As someone who services security and camera systems for a living, I would not trust my video to a) be on the internet, via Google or otherwise, and b) allow anyone other than myself to have any control or viewing capability. The best, most stable and secure security systems are offline, on their own private network. Anything beyond that is just asking for trouble

uh no. I on the opposite hand would like to prevent private places such as my home from being spied on and tracked by evil corporations such as Google.