Nest Automation: Google’s Plan for Your Smart Home
A Promising Idea
Google has purchased a lot of different companies (182 as of this writing), but their acquisition of Nest Labs in January of 2014 made a lot of people sit up and take notice.
Before that point, Nest was comfortably settling into their role as a manufacturer of smart thermostats and, soon after, a smart smoke and carbon monoxide detector. With Google in the picture, however, there’s suddenly a lot more potential.
Now, Google has a huge stake in the future of home automation — the concept that the systems and devices in your home could be run by smart appliances with minimal input from you.
It’s the often discussed but not often seen (not yet, anyway) idea of the smart home. It’s like Tex Avery’s 1949 “House of Tomorrow,” except “tomorrow” may not be all that far away.
3 Reasons Behind the Devices
Nest’s reasoning behind their smart home concept is three-fold.
- First, it’s about comfort. Automating functions like heat and hot water keep you comfortable in your own home. If you forget about programming your thermostat, for example, it’s no problem: Nest has it covered.
- The second motivator is energy savings. Smart devices like Nest can learn what times you want your home’s temperature raised or lowered and can automate that task. Change up your schedule, and it’s no trouble — just use the app to make your adjustments.
- Finally, Nest believes a smart home is a safer home. Products working together can improve your home security and even let you know if there’s a fire or other dangerous environmental situation.
The motivation all starts with their four products, but it looks like the Nest reach will go far beyond them.
Learning Thermostat, Nest Protect, Nest Cam and Nest Weave
If you’re currently looking for Nest brand products, these are what you’ll find. Their learning thermostat is what a lot of people think of when they think of a smart thermostat: app controlled, round interface, bright read-out.
And the Nest Protect, which was first released in the fall of 2013, is a reinvention of the standard smoke detector. It performs roughly the same function, but in a more user friendly way. (Read: No loud smoke alarm when all you’re doing is a very controlled flambé.)
The Nest Weave is a fresh addition to the Nest family to be used without WiFi.
Finally, there’s the Nest Cam, which is actually the Dropcam renamed; Nest acquired Dropcam last summer and got into the home security camera game. Once you understand that Nest is aiming for smart home totality, you realise that having a camera in its arsenal makes perfect sense.
And Now, Nest Weave
Nest products are becoming increasingly popular as more and more people are upgrading their thermostats to smart versions, appreciating the features of the smart smoke detector Protect, and installing affordable smart security cameras in their homes. The Works With Nest initiative has been a hit so far because it allows other products to integrate with a home Nest system to create an expandable smart home. Now, Nest has announced Weave, which aims to grow this Nest-based smart home even more.
It’s an attempt to make the Nest IoT protocol as developer-friendly as possible, so that more and more products can work with Nest. It was announced at the end of September 2015, and it should be available to developers early next year. It’s important to note that Nest Weave is different from the current Nest open API because Weave does not rely on wifi for connectivity. This is a big step for convenience, safety, and security.
Why Weave, and Why Now?
In a word, competition: while the home automation sector is still fairly young, it’s growing like a weed. While Nest may be one of the more well known manufacturers of smart home components and smart home protocols, it’s by no means the only one.
For starters, there’s Apple’s HomeKit, which holds great appeal for the growing number of Apple fans and features Apple’s legendary and friendly user interface. As a result, lots of manufacturers like GE, Kwikset, Netatmo, and Withings are all compatible with this iOS-based system. There’s also Belkin’s WeMo line of outlets, smart bulbs, and appliances that all work together. And of course, there’s Google’s Brillo, which was announced this past spring and holds a great deal of potential.
So, Nest needs to stay on top of the competition if they want to succeed in this expanding market. Offering Nest Weave to developers makes it all the more likely that new smart products will integrate with the Nest platform and make the whole set-up seem like the most appealing one to consumers.
But is Nest Weave Secure?
The short answer is yes, Nest Weave offers a high level of security to make you feel safe in your home. Thanks to pre-defined application planes and application-specific keys, low latency interaction, low power requirements, and zero reliance on wifi, the Nest IoT that Weave can facilitate is completely secure. Connectivity without wifi is a big part of this, as devices will continue to work (and remain secure) even if the power goes out or the internet goes down.
And of course, everything connected to your Nest home automation system can be monitored and controlled via the Nest app for iOS, Android, or the web. It’s a convenient, single control panel for an entire Nest-connected home, and it will work anywhere there’s a wifi or data connection.
The First Nest Weave Products
The first Weave-enabled product that Nest is touting is the new Linus lock by Yale. This is a keypad-based smart lock that will be available in early 2016. Using the Nest app, users will be able to see who’s coming and going, set pass codes for entry, and simply check to see if the door is open or locked.
Relevant: The Best Smart Door Locks
As for other products, it’s all but certain that once developers are able to get their hands on Nest Weave and start programming compatibility into new and updated devices, there will be more compatible home automation components available. Throw in Nest’s ease of use and the number of individuals who are almost ready to upgrade their thermostats and other home appliances to smart devices, and we could really see a bump in the number of Works With Nest badges on consumer smart home products very soon.
Works with Nest
So Nest has its big four, but the goal is to make them interact and “talk to” all sorts of other products. Enter the Works with Nest initiative, which syncs Nest products with appliances, electronics, and even vehicles that you already use to make your home smarter. At first, it might seem excessive, but it quickly becomes a great idea. It works like magic, but it’s not magic — it’s a carefully coordinated smart system.
Take your door’s lock, for example. Nest works with both August and Kevo smart locks. By syncing your thermostat with the lock, Nest can automatically lower the temperature of your home when you walk out the door. Or, if you’ve got multiple people coming and going, Nest can take note of who walks in and adjust the temperature to his or her preference.
Other Nest Partners
Currently, there are about ten official partners with products that Work with Nest. One is Philips Hue light bulbs; Nest can turn them on when you’re not at home to deter would-be burglars. Another partner is Rachio sprinklers, which can switch on if Nest suspects there’s a fire in the house. Mercedes-Benz is also on board with Nest; the car can estimate when you’ll be home and sync with Nest to have your house nice and toasty upon arrival.
Other devices that Work with Nest include Whirlpool washers and dryers, Ooma Telo, and Big Ass Fans (yes, Big Ass Fans). And there are lots of future partnership possibilities, like Jawbone trackers, which, thanks to sleep tracking capabilities, can prompt Nest to turn up the heat when you wake up in the morning.
The New Nest API
Recently, Google announced the new Nest API, or the Nest Developer Program. This could blow the world of home automation wide open, as it provides developers of other products to make even more smart home connections.
If the first thing you think of when you read this is protecting your privacy, don’t worry: developers won’t have access to your personal information or any of your Nest Cam video. They’ll have to coordinate their devices to work with Nest’s home and away modes, Protect’s alerts, and, if you’ve got a Mercedes-Benz on your network, what your estimated time of arrival is. These might change in the future, as the system’s potential unfolds, but developers can do a lot with the limited number of trigger points they can currently access.
The Future of Nest Automation
The smart home concept has been batted around for quite a while, and although Apple seems to have garnered quite a bit of buzz with their HomeKit, Nest and Google have certainly turned a lot of heads with their recently opened API. And yes, it probably will be a race: Nest and Apple HomeKit are, alas, not compatible.
Still, if you’ve got a Nest thermostat, or if you’re considering installing one soon, you’ll probably be able to incorporate more and more devices as your needs dictate and your budget allows. Yes, it will be expensive, especially at first — isn’t it always?
Once everything gets automated, though, your comfort levels, energy savings, and sense of safety may make it all seem worth it.
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Nest Learning Thermostat
Philips Hue Starter Kit