Your House and the Internet
Google has paid $3.2 billion to buy Nest Labs, Inc.-a maker of thermostats and fire detectors that can be accessed over the internet-as it looks ahead to a future of more interconnected products for the home.
Nest is a tech startup co-founded by Tony Fadell, a former Apple executive who helped create the iPod. Its ground-breaking thermostat, which can be controlled over the internet with a smart phone, is designed to learn the schedule of homeowners so that after a break-in period it regulates itself. The $249 device can help lower heating and cooling bills by as much as 20%, the company says.
The Nest fire detector and CO alarm also uses the internet to send a signal to a smart phone if the alarm goes off or if the batteries need changing. But it also has other advantages over a conventional fire detector, such as a feature that lets a homeowner turn off the alarm merely by waving at the device.
In a blog post, Fadell said that with Google’s backing, “Nest will be even better placed to build simple, thoughtful devices that make life easier at home, and that have a positive impact on the world,” according to an article at wired.com.
Fadell told TechCrunch that Google would use information it gathers about customers to improve Nest products and services but not for Google’s larger advertising programs, according to wired.com.
The Wall Street Journal called Nest “a poster child” for what’s called the Internet of Things, the technology of using computers and communications technology to make common objects more useful.
Fadell told the newspaper that Google was a good fit for Nest because its resources would allow Nest to grow and expand overseas.
Nest products are currently sold at Apple stores, but it wasn’t clear whether that would continue. But, according to the WSJ, Nest said it would continue supporting Apple operating systems so its devices would work with an iPhone or iPad.
The Nest thermostat is part of a new wave of devices that use computers and enhanced communication technology to make everyday objects more useful; what's called the Internet of Things.