Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Nest Labs is rolling out a program to encourage companies to develop devices and services that will work with the Nest digital thermostat and other products. Nest Labs today announced the ‘Works with Nest’ developer program, which allows its Nest Thermostat and Nest Protect products to connect to a number of services from the likes of Google, Mercedes Benz, Whirlpool, LIFX and more for enhanced smart home functionalities.
Appliance maker Whirlpool Corp., automaker Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz and garage-door maker Chamberlain Group Inc. have signed on as partners, Nest said. By connecting washing machines, cars and garage doors with Nest, users can control the temperature and energy use within their residences, the Palo Alto, California-based company said in a statement.
The initiative is part of a wider push to make houses and everyday devices more connected and intelligent. Apple Inc. is building home-automation features into its iOS mobile software and startups have introduced devices to control lighting, security and other devices in the home. Nest and Google’s venture arm are teaming up with venture investor Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to create the ‘Thoughtful Things Fund’ to back new ideas for connected homes, Nest said.
Nest, founded by former Apple executive Tony Fadell, has long-been seen as one of the leading companies in the smart home revolution. Google bought the company for $3.2 billion in January and last week Nest bought video monitoring service DropCam for $555 million to learn how people behave in their homes, for instance by reportedly tracking how doors are open and shut.
With Google’s $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest Labs, it is only going to be a matter of time before home owners who have Nest’s learning thermostat would be able to say, “Okay Google, turn the temperature to 72 degrees.”
The developer program, which was announced last year, has attracted the interest of more than 5,000 developers and in fact, has already produced a number of innovative home appliance integrations in the thermostat’s platform. “What we’re doing is making it possible for your Nest devices to securely interact with the things you already use every day,” writes Nest founder and head of engineering Matt Rogers.
Because when we make connections between these different parts of your life, we can create personalize experiences that do even more to keep you comfortable and safe.”In short, Nest wants its smart thermostat to become the central hub of a smart, “conscious and thoughtful” home. It may seem strange to think that the low and humble thermostat can do that, but Nest’s flagship product isn’t just any old thermostat. It is jam-packed with motion sensors and an ability to learn user behavior over time. It also has Wi-Fi and has untapped wireless ZigBee protocol that can be used for personal area networks.
The integration will allow those users to set the temperature of their homes with voice commands to a Google mobile app. It will also allow Google’s personal digital assistant, Google Now, to set the temperature automatically when it detects, using a smartphone’s location-tracking abilities, that a user is returning home.
Nest also stated that it will allow developers of garage door openers and similar automated appliances to access and utilize user information. However, Nest co-founder Matt Rogers noted users will have to opt in for their information to be shared with Google, making it a point to emphasize user privacy:
Most of the data that Nest will share with Google and others will focus on whether users are at home or not, as detected by sensors on the thermostat. When people link a home device and related account with Nest, the company will not share their email address, name or home address with other companies, Rogers said.
“We’re not becoming part of the greater Google machine,” he said.
The news comes as a number of developers are working on products under Apple’s new HomeKit initiative, which allows home automation devices and their apps to work with iOS services using a single, secure protocol. Companies currently lined up with Apple for HomeKit include iHome, Honeywell, Haier, Philips, Schlage, and Withings.
Last week, Nest Labs announced that it would be acquiring video-monitoring and security startup Dropcam for $555 million to further its smart home initiative. The company also restarted sales of its Nest protect app-enabled smoke detector last week after it was pulled from shelves over safety concerns.
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