Google, Nest, Android and Your Home

Gonna be real honest,

Google's acquisition of Nest a few months ago got me real excited.

In acquiring Nest, Google has brought on a talented group of product designers and developers that are thinking about problems the way that I think Google does: How can we answer your questions before you ask them? How can we solve your problems before you have them? How can we enchant, simplify and amaze?

  • How long will my drive home from work be?
    • Google Now has Maps waiting.
  • Where did I park my car, again?
    • Google Now remembers where you stopped driving.
  • What time was my dinner reservation?
    • Google Now read your OpenTable reservation and will let you know when to leave on time.
  • Did I turn off my A/C before leaving for my vacation?
    • Nest has tuned your thermostat to the most energy efficient setting, sensing you've left you home.

Nest's platform works by tracking your behavior over time and, using machine-learning algorithms, determines it's best guess at when you may leave home, arrive home, go to sleep, wake up, among other things. From there, it anticipates the most appropriate temperature based on these assumptions.

I know another service that has massive amounts of data on when it's users are leaving for work, heading home, active, awake, quiet, sleeping, or even leaving on extended trips: Google Now.

It's not hard to take that Nest example from above and extend it to:

  • Did I turn off my A/C before leaving for my vacation?
    • Google Now knows that your flights depart today and arrive home next Thursday. Using this information, it doesn't have to guess when you'll be home again, it'll know it can go into low-energy mode for the duration of your trip and it will notify Nest to do so. A couple hours before you get home, Google Now notifies Nest that you'll be home soon and Nest sets your thermostat back to your ideal temperature.

Years ago, I remember reading an article about Bill Gate's House and being inspired by the technology packed into it's walls. The most fascinating piece, to me, was the pins that guests could wear. These pins packed an environment configuration that would then allow every room to adjust itself to the preferences of its occupants.

Incredible! I thought… Surely, this is the future!

And, it very well may be the future, in some capacity. But, as our future of smart devices is still slowly lifting off the ground (a luxury in most scenarios, providing questionable value), we haven’t seen technology like Bill’s pins make it’s way into the average home. I think Nest’s device is making a great first step in that direction, but it doesn't have that next-level of personalization that makes the pins so enchanting.

If we truly are sitting on the cusp of a hardware revolution where most commonplace household are going to become connected, in order to provide significant value, someone will need to be able to collect and process massive amounts of user behavior data to provide a personalized service. Google, with its swiss-army knife of sensors in your pocket that are constantly uploading behavioral data to their servers, appears to be in a position to do just this.

The Nest acquisition places Google squarely in the front of providing a deeply integrated user experience around you, your home, and your devices. Imagine seamless control of your home from your Android device, predictive household environment configuration from Google Now, and a focus on learning user behavior that constantly improves these services and offerings. Tack on top of all of this the increasing prevalence of embedded ARM Android in place of more traditional AVR microcontrollers and Google will control the OS running on your laptop, your tablet, your phone, your watch, your glasses and in your thermostat… Integration possibilities are beyond count and are undoubtedly exciting.

Ok Google, its hot in here…

setting the temperature to 71º fahrenheit

Fantastic.