Google bying NEST and how to make your own

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 and[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:


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Nathan Ingraham / The Verge:
    Nest’s security camera Cam allows streaming 1080p video at 30 FPS to iOS 8, Android 4 devices, costs $200, allows saving footage with subscription service Aware — Nest’s first security camera is called the Cam — It’s been almost a year to the day since Nest purchased Dropcam for $555 million …

    Nest gets into the home security game with the Nest Cam
    The legacy of Dropcam lives on

    It’s been almost a year to the day since Nest purchased Dropcam for $555 million, and today we’re seeing the first real fruits of that acquisition. At an event in San Francisco this morning, Nest unveiled the new Nest Cam — a home security and monitoring device that looks exactly like the one that leaked just last week.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Matt Rogers / Nest:
    Redesigned Nest app adds several new features, a simplified UI, and support for Nest Cam

    One home. One app.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Samantha Murphy Kelly / Mashable:
    Apple yanks Google’s Nest smart thermostat from website and retail stores — You can no longer purchase Google’s popular smart thermostat on Apple’s online store or at its retail locations. — Apple confirmed to Mashable it has pulled the web-connected product

    Apple yanks Google’s Nest smart thermostat from website and retail stores

    You can no longer purchase Google’s popular smart thermostat on Apple’s online store or at its retail locations.

    Apple confirmed to Mashable it has pulled the web-connected product — considered the first mainstream smart home product — from its shelves and website. The move comes as the first batch of smart home products that work on Apple’s HomeKit platform become available for purchase.

    Considering Google recently announced a competing platform called Brillo, it’s unlikely Nest will become HomeKit compatible anytime soon

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Control Nest Devices with Amazon Echo

    ZPriddy] was looking for a way to control his Nest thermostats with Amazon Echo. He didn’t want to settle for using AWS or some other hosted service. [ZPriddy] wanted something that he could host and manage completely on his own. The end result is what he calls EchoNestPy.

    EchoNestPy – Alexa meet Nest via Python

    EchoNestPy is a python based API server running on flask. It allows the Amazon Echo to talk to the server and then the server will talk to your Nest allowing you to control it. This version is setup to allow multiple Amazon Echo users to share the same server to control their own Nest without interfering with the other users Nests.

    Right now it will control multiple Nests in the same house however when setting the temperature to a set value, it will set all Nests to the same temperature. But when changing the temperature by warmer or cooler it will +/- 2 degrees f to each Nest, even if they are different values.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Greg Kumparak / TechCrunch:
    Third-generation Nest Thermostat launches today with a bigger, brighter screen for $249

    Nest’s Smart Thermostat Gets Updated With A Bigger, Brighter Screen

    Back in June, Nest overhauled just about every product they make… save for one curious exception: the smart thermostat that most know them for best.

    Two months later, Nest’s thermostat is getting an upgrade of its own.

    So what’s new?

    Side-by-side, though, the differences are a bit more obvious. The third-gen Nest packs a bigger display (2.08 inches versus 1.75 inches) into a body that, while ever so slightly bigger (about a tenth of an inch larger in diameter), doesn’t jut quite as far out of the wall. That larger screen also packs a higher resolution than the one before it, with a resolution of 480×480 versus the 320×320 display of v2.

    Meanwhile, Nest has introduced something that they’re calling “Farsight” — a fancy way of saying that its motion sensors can sense movement from a greater distance now.

    The third-gen Nest thermostat goes on sale today at the same price as before: $249. Meanwhile, they’ve cut the price of the 2nd-gen model down to $199 — but only until the remaining stock runs dry.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Nest thermostat owners left without heating after software glitch
    Google-owned company urges customers to reset smart temperature controllers after they go offline

    Owners of the Nest thermostat have been unable to heat their home after bug in the internet-connected controller forced it to shut down.

    The company, bought by Google for $3.2 billion (£2.2 billion) two years ago, admitted that that a software update had gone wrong, forcing the thermostat’s batteries to drain and rendering it incapable of controlling temperature.

    It left users of the £200 “smart” device, which is designed to save energy by learning what temperatures owners like and when they are away, with cold houses and fears of burst water pipes.

    “Woke up to a dead Nest and a very cold house. Not good when you have a baby sleeping!” one user wrote on the Nest internet forums.

    The thermostat connects to the internets and smartphones, allowing users to control central heating and hot water remotely, as well as programming itself to save energy.

    Sales of Nest and other “smart home” products are growing rapidly, but some experts have feared that connection failures and cyber-attacks could disable or compromise these devices.

    Nest urged owners to follow a nine-point guide to reset their thermostats, including recharging and resetting it, and said it was preparing a solution.

    “We are aware of a software bug impacting some Nest Thermostat owners,” a spokesman said.

    “In some cases, this may cause the device to respond slowly or become unresponsive.”

    What to do if your Nest Thermostat has become slow, unresponsive, or won’t turn on

    Some Nest Thermostats that have been updated to software version 5.1.3 or later may become unresponsive or may not charge the battery efficiently, causing it to shut down. Recharge and restart your thermostat to get it working again.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Minimalist Thermostat © MIT
    A thermostat that you won’t see

    A thermostat is a component which senses the temperature of a system so that the system’s temperature is maintained near a desired setpoint. The thermostat does this by switching heating or cooling devices on or off.

    Since I wanted to test the concept of how it would be like to build a thermostat, I created a prototype.

    The system is controlled by a Particle Photon or Core dev kit. Since it needs to know the temperature, a DHT22 is required. Also, to control the HVAC system I have at home, I used 5 volts relays.

    This project will be messing around with an expensive system, my HVAC. When the time comes for the installation I want to be sure that nothing goes wrong, or at least minimize my chances of something going bad.

    For this I have created a visual feedback system that I will use as my HVAC simulator. It’s made of Lego and pretty basic, so bear with me

    The Finite State Machine library

    Soon I discovered that there were no FSM libraries for the particle, but when searching a library for Arduino, I found this one. I tried it and it was an excellent fit for me.

    With the permission of the original author, I ported and published it in the particle libraries for everybody’s benefit.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Whatever happened to … Nest?
    Egos, bean counters and being Larry Page’s buddy have stalled Google’s consumer IoT plans

    Remember Nest Labs? Google spunked $2bn (£1.41bn) on the home appliance outfit two years ago.

    The acquisition was supposed to put Google-owner Alphabet at the heart of the “internet of things,” and in the consumer mainstream. Nest cofounder Tony Fadell had been the design force behind the iPod as a contractor. Google mostly innovates through acquisitions rather than its own in-house R&D.

    But, other than the odd reiteration, Nest hasn’t released a new product since 2013.

    puts the blame on egos – Fadell’s, principally – and also the bean counters within Alphabet. Nest’s last product was a rebadged camera, the result of a $555m acquisition of Dropcam.

    Four new Nest products are in the offing, including Bluetooth key fobs and a low-power wireless hub codenamed “Flintstone,” The Information also reveals. The trouble is, everyone else is making these too: Huawei and Samsung have comprehensive “connected home” products stacks. Even Amazon is miles ahead.

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Mark Bergen / Re/code:
    Nest CEO Tony Fadell went to Google’s all-hands meeting to defend Nest. Here’s what he said.

    After a spate of damning articles about Nest, CEO Tony Fadell came to the weekly staff meeting of sister company Google to counter the negative press and defend Nest’s corporate culture and sales figures.

    Nest is the smart-home device subsidiary under Alphabet, the parent company of Google, which bought Nest for $3.2 billion in 2014. Late last month, some of Nest’s struggles surfaced in a series of reports.

    The first, a lengthy article in The Information, detailed a corrosive internal culture after Nest’s acquisition of Dropcam, which makes connected video cameras. Dropcam’s founder, Greg Duffy fired back in a Medium post further attacking Fadell’s management style and said he regretted selling his startup. On March 30, Re/code reported that Nest’s sales figures for 2015 — around $340 million — fell short of the initial targets set by Google at acquisition.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Rich McCormick / The Verge:
    Google and Honeywell resolve patent dispute over Nest’s thermostats

    Google and multinational manufacturer Honeywell have resolved their long-running patent dispute over the thermostats produced by Nest Labs, the two companies announced today. Honeywell first filed a patent infringement suit against Nest’s Learning Thermostat in early 2012, two years before the home automation company was purchased by Google. There are no details on what the settlement entails, but the two companies said they now shared a “long-term patent cross-license agreement reflecting the respective strength of the companies’ patent portfolios.”

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ron Amadeo / Ars Technica:
    After acquisition by Google, Nest got “virtually unlimited budget”, quadrupled employees, had no new products, caused constant bad PR, and may be for sale now

    Nest’s time at Alphabet: A “virtually unlimited budget” with no results
    Nest quadrupled its employees, launched no new products, and caused constant bad PR.

    Nest CEO Tony Fadell wasn’t officially “fired” from Nest, but it certainly feels like it. Nest and Alphabet announced Fadell would be “transitioning” to an advisory role at Alphabet, dropping both Nest and Fadell into a sea of negative press.

    When Google bought Nest in January 2014, the expectation was that a big infusion of Google’s resources and money would supercharge Nest. Nest grew from 280 employees around the time of the Google acquisition to 1200 employees today. In Nest’s first year as “a Google company,” it used Google’s resources to acquire webcam maker Dropcam for $555 million, and it paid an unknown amount for the smart home hub company Revolv.

    In return for all this investment, Nest delivered very little. The Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Protect smoke detector both existed before the Google acquisition, and both received minor upgrades under Google’s (and later Alphabet’s) wing. A year after buying Dropcam, Nest released the Nest Cam, which was basically a rebranded Dropcam. Two-and-a-half years under Google/Alphabet, a quadrupling of the employee headcount, and half-a-billion dollars in acquisitions yielded minor yearly updates and a rebranded device. That’s all.

    Too slow for Google

    Actually delivering a product to market is Nest’s biggest problem. Dive into reports about Nest and you’ll see those 1200 employees were busy with countless products that never got out the door.

    Flintstone seems like another case of Nest being too slow for Google. The Information report says that Google’s OnHub router “performs some of the functions that Nest’s Flintstone was at one time meant to perform.” Google even included a dormant Thread radio in the device. Rather than wait for Nest, it seems Google went out on its own.

    Then there are all the Dropcam projects Nest inherited and never turned into anything

    Performance of the existing products is an issue too.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Tony Fadell leaves Nest, Marwan Fawaz to be CEO
    Fadell “won’t be present day to day” at Nest, but he remains at Alphabet.

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Mark Gurman / Bloomberg:
    Sources: Nest is working on a cheaper sub-$200 thermostat with individual room control, a home security alarm system, and a digital doorbell — Nest, the pioneer of the iPhone-like digital thermostat, is readying several new products in its quest to modernize the home. — by

    Alphabet’s Nest Working on Cheaper Thermostat, Home Security System

    Nest, the pioneer of the iPhone-like digital thermostat, is readying several new products in its quest to modernize the home.

    Alphabet Inc.’s Nest, seeking a bigger share of the connected home market, is developing a cheaper version of its flagship thermostat and new home security products, according to a person familiar with the matter.

    The company is working on a version of its “learning thermostat,” which adjusts the temperature based on usage patterns, that would sell for under $200, the person said. The current version sells for $249. The cheaper model would include less expensive components and at least one internal prototype lacks the flagship model’s metal edges, the person said.

    A home-security alarm system, a digital doorbell and an updated indoor security camera are also in the works, representing potential good news for a company that has struggled to release many new products.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Add Nest Functionality to your Thermostat for $5

    The Nest Thermostat revolutionized the way that people control the climate in their homes. It has features more features than even the best programmable thermostats. But, all of the premium features also come at a premium price. On the other hand, for only $5, a little coding, and the realization that thermostats are glorified switches, you can easily have your own thermostat that can do everything a Nest can do.

    [Mat’s] solution uses a Sonoff WiFi switch that he ties directly into the thermostat’s control wiring. That’s really the easy part, since most thermostats have a ground or common wire, a signal wire, and a power wire. The real interesting work for this build is in setting up the WiFi interface and doing the backend programming

    NEST your old thermostat under $5

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Fixing a completely dead Nest thermostat.

    .Spoiler – it wasn’t a capacitor.

    If attempting a repair like this then take extra care to ensure the power is off to the PCB. It has a lot of exposed live tracks on it.

    Do you remember when thermostats were cheap, simple and lasted for over 30 years? Welcome to the future where they are expensive, crammed with electronics and may not last a tenth of that.

    I think this one managed to scrape by its one year warranty period before ceasing to sense.

    I would categorise my test-bodge as a temporary measure to identify the fault. It would be better to get the proper component, although it’s not an easy one to desolder. It may require more aggressive heat pen use and probably some careful masking with Kapton tape to protect adjacent components.

    In use the unit seems to run pretty cool. The two hottest components visible to the thermal camera were the PSU diode and the PSU primary side MOSFET, and neither of them was particularly hot.


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