Google dollars push IoT into the spotlight

Earlier this week Google announced that it would be purchasing Nest for $3.2 billion. Even for Google that’s a significant sum of money – well OK, maybe not for Google – but it’s enough for anyone else to take note.

Nest is the poster child for the new ‘smart’ connected device trend that is promising (threatening?) to take over the world. The company offers two devices, a smoke alarm and a thermostat, both of which are cool, stylish and web connected, enabling you to remotely adjust the temperature, or presumably monitor your house burning down from a safe distance.

One of the two guys who founded Nest is Tony Fadell, who was the behind-the-scenes-man that was key in the creation of the original iPod, one of the most iconic and ground-breaking products of the 21st century, so that’s some track record right there.

The Thermostat is circular rather than passé oblong shape of your ‘stupid’ thermostat, and features an LCD dial with a Star Trek style digital display, that you set to your desired temperature either by hand or via an app on your smartphone or tablet.

The thermostat ‘learns’ as you adjust the temperature and eventually it claims it will help you conserve energy and reduce costs by around 20 per cent.

The Nest Thermostat – one of the many smart connected devices hitting the market

I could certainly do with one of these. The thermostat in my house never seems to turn the heating off no matter how hot the house gets and if we set it too low the heating won’t turn on at all. Needless to say, it’s not web connected. In fact, it doesn’t even seem connected to itself.

Judging from the promotional videos for the product Google and Nest will be a good fit. The videos both feature the soft plinky-plonk piano and picky, hippy happy guitar that screams ‘we’re going to change the world’ in a laid back, hipster and gratingly upper middle-class kind of way. Get used to it.

The remote access though is a crowd pleaser if you judge from the gasps of the audience in this weird product placement segment on the Ellen DeGeneres show in the USA, when she mentions that it has remote access.

Nest has said that it will remain independent within Google, and while there are fears that the Nest will now be able to squash the competition others in the market says it bodes well for the Internet of Things concept.

“I think it provides a level of confidence that these types of technologies are not just a flash in the pan,” Jason Johnson, CEO of smart lock developer August told CNET.” [It shows] that connected devices, particularly everyday objects that didn’t have connectivity in the past, are here to stay…These are only markets that will grow.”

I do actually wonder if Nest is hiding behind a router that uses NAT on an IPv4 retwork, rather than actually having its own address via IPv6 if it is actually part of the IoT. Indeed, the Nest doesn’t support IPv6 – yet.

Either way, Google’s move has certainly pushed the concept of the IoT further into the mainstream, so we should expect an explosion of smarter and ever more connected devices to arrive, complete with hipster lifestyle videos, over the next couple of years. Brace yourselves.


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