Google buys Nest: An Operating System for the Home or Robots

nest_diagram_teaseSo, Google just bought Nest Labs, the creators of Internet-connected home devices like a thermostat and smoke alarm, for $3.2 billion in cash.

I’ve been thinking about two reasons why. The fist the more logical one; Google is building a operating system (OS) for your home. The second might have something to do with robots.

Android @ Home
android-at-home-feature-art-e1367959370614Google already launched a thing called Android @ Home at the Google I/O conference in 2011. Since then we have seen different TV propositions as well, with Google TV and the Chromecast stick. In 2011 some companies showcased the use of Google’s reference Accessory Development Kit (ADK) to play music, grow plants and control robots.

Now with Nest, they have a bought not only a sleek looking piece of hardware, but also the backend service and management cloud for smart home services. And on the frontend side it isn’t hard to imagine accessing your Android Home OS with your smartphone of Google TV.

Adding Android@Home devices to Google Now would even be better,  you’ll be able to check the settings of your thermostat, get notified on all kinds of sensor based-services or check how much money you’re gonna spend on electricity this month.

Betting on Robots
Google is definitely betting on Robots. Looking at Google’s recent acquisitions: humanoid robot-makers like Boston Dynamics that make two- and four-legged machines that walk and run like us. Then there was Holomni, a small design firm that makes high-tech robotic wheels, presumably for more robots, or even Google’s fleet of driverless cars.

The VP of technology at Nest is Yoky Matsuoka, a roboticist and artificial intelligence expert from the University of Washington. She once said:

“The intersection of neuroscience and robotics is about how the human brain learns to do things and how machine learning comes in to augment that.”

Nest is about sensing, automation, and control. It may not make human-like robots, but it is producing machine intelligences that can do things in the physical world.

Well who knows what Google is really up to, but this is my guess. GigaOM has a article on how this might affect data privacy within the comfort of your own home. An interesting read.

3 comments on “Google buys Nest: An Operating System for the Home or Robots

  1. Hi Thomas, great post. here is the brillant side of this acquisition. What about the dark side and the issues regarding security and and personal information managed by Google ?

  2. Tnx Jacques,

    That’s the dealbreaker of course.

    Companies should be fined for data breaches, which would encourage companies to design data protection into their products from the beginning.

    As for personal information Nest has declared the following:

    Will Nest customer data be shared with Google?
    Our privacy policy clearly limits the use of customer information to providing and improving Nest’s products and services. We’ve always taken privacy seriously and this will not change.

    So your question is certainly on point. The answer however is not. But Google has a history of privacy breaches of course, as usual the trade-off need to be sufficient.

  3. The security will probably be left as it is for a while, but when the company is well integrated with Google and they have replaced most of their services they will probably ‘introduce some privacy changes’ regarding devices.

    It is interesting to see that Google as an internet company starts to sell more products (beginning with Nexus). And is now integrating more and more into our houses. Still their focus is on using and selling their internet services on these devices. ‘Google Now’ is a very powerful example. With the Nest thermostat they could make it even more powerful.

    “We suggest to leave from work if you want to skip traffic jams. Can we already turn on your heating?”

    Or maybe show you some new furniture websites for when your house is on fire when using the Nest smoke sensor?

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