For the past nine months, Dropcam's had a feature that can watch what's going on in front of its lens, and alert you to certain types of activity. The only problem was that those alerts depended on Dropcam's computer imaging technologies getting it right, which wasn't always the case. Today the company's taken a step to give people manual control of the areas its cameras see with custom activity zones. Users draw these out on Dropcam's web interface, give them a name, then set up whether or not they want alerts for those regions. When something happens within that specific area, you get an alert — but only then.

Dropcam's becoming more like a security system

The addition makes Dropcam one step closer to being a security system, whereas the company has positioned itself as a life monitoring tool. The feature will go hand in hand with an upcoming product called Tabs, which are small, battery-powered Bluetooth transmitters that can be placed on doors, windows, and other objects around the house to provide alerts for things outside the camera's field of view.

The new feature is only available on Dropcam's web interface, and cannot be setup on the company's mobile apps. It also requires that users subscribe to one of its two recording plans, which archive a week or a month's worth of footage to the cloud for a monthly or annual fee.

Nest announced plans to purchase Dropcam last month as part of a $555 million deal. Neither company has gone into too much detail about what that means for future Dropcam products, short of saying that the home monitoring camera and Nest's thermostat and smoke alarm products will work better with one another. Ahead of the deal it was rumored that Nest was looking to expand into home security technology, and was eyeing Dropcam's computer imaging technology to make that happen.