Google intends to buy a connected thermostat that knows when you’re home and where you are within it. Google Gets a Nest, But Is It Flying Too High? When Google closes the Nest deal, privacy issues for the internet of things will hit the big time article tells that Google rocked the smart home market with its intention to purchase connected home thermostat maker Nest for $3.2 billion, which will force a much-needed conversation about data privacy and security for the internet of things. Google’s proposed $3.2bn purchase of Nest Labs, a maker of internet-connected round-the-home devices, shows that the online advertising giant considers the Internet of Things a serious proposition. A very serious proposition. Google values that company at more than 10 times its sales, derived from shipment figures. Nest cost Google more to buy than YouTube!
Actually, It’s Google That’s Eating the World column suggests that Google is getting too big. When the company was younger, most of its acquisitions related to its core businesses (search, advertising, network infrastructure, and communications). More recently, it’s been colonizing areas with a less obvious connection to search, such as travel, social networking, productivity, logistics, energy, robotics, and — with the acquisition this week of Nest Labs — home sensor networks and automation. Nest is best known for an internet-enabled thermostat and a likewise cloud-connected smoke detector, both snazzy looking but ultimately prosaic devices.
Internet of Things coverage tends to centre on the essential novelty of linking “non-technology” products, like thermostats, to the cloud to give them extended remote control. But these devices can also host sensors which feed back environmental data about the location in which they are situated. Google’s servers can crunch those numbers to analyze usage patterns and thus extract information.
When a company like Google — which has had numerous run-ins over privacy in the U.S. and abroad — plans to buy a company that makes products equipped with motion detectors that track what’s happening inside the home, it’s time that conversation about privacy and the internet of things takes a step forward. The reason is that ‘Any sufficiently advanced search, communications, and sensing infrastructure is indistinguishable from Big Brother‘.
What if you want smart thermostat without Google? There are also other players on the field you can look on. Some rival Internet of Things players, most notably Electric Imp, are trying to do: to become not a branded device-maker along the lines of Apple or Samsung, but a technology provider styled on Intel, with their own “inside” sticker placed alongside the manufacturer logo on the connected fridge, car, oven, thermostat, bike lock, burglar alarm, electricity meter et cetera. Plug those devices to your own cloud if you don’t trust the big brother.
What about a do-it-yourself open source option? Nest Who? Here’s How to Build Your Own Smart Thermostat, Move Over, Google Nest: Open Source Thermostat Is HeatingUp the Internet of Things and Building an Open Source Nest articles tell that in the wake of Google’s purchase of connected devices interest Nest, the gents at [Spark] set about to making one in roughly a day and for a fraction of the cost it took Nest to build their initial offering. They we spent about $70 on components to put this together (including $39 for the Spark Core) and did their prototype in in less than 24 hours Hackathon with 3.5 engineers involved. A place for all things related to ye olde Spark Thermostat Hackathon are at http://blog.spark.io/2014/01/17/open-source-thermostat/ and https://github.com/spark/thermostat. [Spark]‘s aim is to put connected devices within reach of the average consumer, and The Next Big Thing within the reach of the average entrepreneur. Building a new high-tech product is easier now than it’s ever been before thanks to many interesting open source development boards.
Links to more information on Google buying Nest: