Away? Relax. Your Nest security webcam just got smarter.

Just as webcams seemed irrelevant, Nest and Withings found a way to keep them fresh: let Internet-connected cameras communicate with smart phones for security or baby monitoring. 

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    A Nest Cam security camera.
    Courtesy of Nest
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Poor webcams. Now that cameras come built into most laptops and phones, there’s little need to buy a dedicated Internet-connected video camera. Technological dinosaurs that they are, many webcams have died off, but some evolved into leaner, smarter beasts.

One of the best remaining webcams, the Nest Cam, took on the traits of an inexpensive security camera. The slim camera captures high-definition video that owners may view from their smart phones.

After a big update in June, Nest’s mobile app can now tap into live recordings from each camera connected to an account. This makes it easy to switch from a view of the garage, to the living room, and over to a small business or vacation home. Nest Cam sends alerts to the phone app if it captures an unexpected motion or a loud sound. And people can talk through their phones to a speaker attached to the camera, such as to scold the family dog for sleeping on the couch while the humans are away.

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The $200 Nest Cam builds on the successful model set up by DropCam, which Google’s Nest Labs bought last year. While watching live video comes free of charge, subscribers can pay $100 a year to rewind the video up to 10 days into the past or $300 a year for Nest to retain 30 days of footage. Frequent users may also see their Internet bill go up, since streaming HD video can take a bite out of a family’s monthly data cap.

Another thriving survivor in these post-webcam days is the Withings Smart Baby Monitor. Research in the journal Developmental Psychology suggests that parents should not rush to their baby’s side every time it cries. With Withings’ $250 camera, parents can peek in on the child from their phone or computer to see if those tears need to be attended to right now or if the baby is about to drift back to sleep.

Both cameras are built for indoor use only and lack many of the features of a full-fledged security package. But Nest and Withings designed these cameras to be easily set up in just a few minutes.

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