Google begins its home invasion

I contacted Nest's PR late last week but heard nothing back. Now I know why. The company has been sold to Google for $3.2 billion. Quite what the acquisition means for Nest and its products long term is difficult to say -- "Nest will stay Nest" according to Nest’s CEO Tony Fadell (the "godfather of the iPod" as he’s also known) -- but it does signal an important move for Google.

The company already knows a lot about you. Depending on which of its services you use it knows what your interests are, where you go on the Internet, and (via Android) in the real world, where you live, who you know, the topics you discuss in emails, the videos you watch and comment on, and more. And now, it could soon begin to know more about what you do in your own home.

Nest Thermostat learns your behavior, and what temperatures you like, and automatically adjusts the heating for you. It uses sensors to tell when you’ve gone out, so it doesn’t waste energy heating an empty house. Google already knows where you live and when you’re not at home and now, with the acquisition, it could know when the house is entirely empty. Good job it doesn’t have a team of burglars on standby.

Nest Protect is an intelligent smoke detector that knows when your house is actually on fire or if you’ve just burned your toast, and if you own a Nest Thermostat it can communicate with it, providing another way for the system to know what rooms you and your family are in and when you’re out.

Tony Fadell says Nest customer data won’t 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".

Maybe short term it won't, but long term it most definitely will. Google hasn’t handed over $3.2 billion just to get into the thermostat and smoke detector market. It will gain some clever products and a super smart team, but user data is what fuels Google. To begin Google will probably get anonymized data -- no Nest customer details there -- but don’t be too surprised if signing into a Google+ account becomes one of the Nest setup stages later on.

The Internet of Things, the Internet of Everything or, as Robert Cringely calls it, The Internet of Crap, is the next big thing in the tech world, and Google’s acquisition of Nest gives the search giant an important stepping stone into this area. The knowledge the Nest team has will prove invaluable to Google, and the resources Google has will prove similarly invaluable to Nest. Nest can expand its product line, add more smart products, and run independently, and Google can slowly take over our homes as it’s already taken over the internet and our mobile phones.

Photo Credit: Ricardo Reitmeyer/Shutterstock

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