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Nest Labs, the company that created smart thermostats and smoke detectors, was recently acquired by Google for $3.2 billion. Nest currently only makes two products, a learning thermostat that adjusts to its users’ personal temperature settings and an advanced smoke alarm that detects carbon monoxide levels in addition to smoke. Both devices sync with smartphones and tablets through apps which prompt user when levels of CO or smoke rise in their homes and when battery levels are running low. As a company that only has two products, the question that comes to most people’s minds is why did Google decide to purchase the four-year-old company? Perhaps the answer is rooted in Google’s mission “to organize the world’s information,” literally.
The Nest acquisition is an act of foresight for Google’s long term plan to be in the smart appliance space. The tech giant has dabbled in a few, somewhat unsuccessful ventures prior to Nest with products such as the Android @Home, Nexus Q and Chromecast. Perhaps it is how Nest aggregates and collects home data that attracted Google Ventures, the search engine’s investment division, to invest $80 million in the startup last year. That data, which tracks customer energy use, is something utility companies will inherently want to purchase. It also opens up a new realm that advertisers can use to make more targeted pitches – both of which are right up Google’s alley.
Privacy is the concern that tops the list for the average consumer with the prime examples being Google’s street view capabilities as well as all the information gathered from Gmail accounts. It is easy to understand why Google’s most recent acquisition can be viewed as another way to get inside our physical homes. However, it should also be considered as bringing us one step closer to connecting all of our high tech gadgets together for a more seamless experience. Having disconnected devices such as fitness trackers, smart glasses, watches and phones running on different platforms can be troublesome for user experience. So what does this all mean to consumers? It means we will all be even more interconnected and help enable smart devices to do what they are meant to do: make our lives easier.
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