If you thought Google was key to the digital future – look at them now

We’ve all seen some movie or another where technology and household appliances (or household itself) are inherently linked. You can open and close your curtains and doors with some device; you can also turn your lights on and off or lock your doors.


This is quickly becoming a reality with today’s technologies. The fact that almost all of us (except the very young or very old and even that’s becoming a stretch) continuously have our iPhones either in our pockets or within arm’s reach means that very soon we’ll be able to control almost every aspect of our lives with our personal device. For instance, we already have a health trend happening with ‘fitbit’ and other devices that utilise wearable tech to tell you about how healthy you are. This is already beginning to happen with where you live.


Phillips Ambilight is a great example — this is a system with special lightbulbs linked to a central hub (connected to your WiFi network) that allow you to control the brightness and even colour of the lights of the room you are in. Nest, however, is another great example. Nest have created a smart thermostat and smoke detector that not only enhances the features of a typical thermostat or smoke detector, but integrates it more heavily with you. For instance, the thermostat learns your schedule — what temperature you want it to be at what time — and makes your house that temperature consistently. Nest’s website claims that if you teach it well enough it could save you up to 20% in your power bill.


The smoke detector integrates with your device to tell you what’s up, but also gives you a ‘heads up’ warning so you’re not deafened simply because you burnt your toast. You can silence this warning simply by waving. Impressive, right?


What does the news of Google’s USD$3.2B acquisition of Nest Labs mean about the company, and about where Google is laying eggs with the motive of soon counting chickens against its competitors? The first step is obvious — Google is moving into the home. It’s where everybody spends the biggest amount of time when they’re not working, and so it makes sense.


In fact, it makes a lot of sense. It’s quickly becoming possible to live entirely in the Google cloud (which is what Google wants, of course). Your email is Google’s, your social network is Google’s, your news is Google’s, your documents are Google’s. Now your house is Google’s. That might sound a bit daunting, but think of the possibilities of integration with Google’s devices, where your thermostat knows that it’s thirty minutes until you get home so has the house ready for you when you get there, or your phone (as well as your smoke detector) chirp to let you know that there’s a fire, and the closest safe exit.


The possibilities continue to grow when you recognise that these two products are only Nest’s first. Think of what else there is inside of your house that can be revolutionised not only with the touch of more technology, but with more integration and innovation. What if your kettle knows when you wake up, or your shower head knows your perfect temperature (using phone to change temperature probably a bad idea though). Imagine not having to worry about keys in your house because your phone’s Bluetooth footprint simply acts as such — yet having the security of your house become more advanced with a notification when somebody is trying to break in.


Ultimately, however, and going back to the idea of living within Google’s ‘cloud’ — this is about more than a command over a smart thermostat or television set. The core idea of the ‘Internet of things’ and of adding the word ‘smart’ to products is integration. Integration of products, services and marketing message in more and more useful, engaging and dynamic ways.

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