google buys nest

Nest is pretty awesome, and it is blatantly obvious that they are going to be getting into residential lighting controls at some point.  Google is ambitious, and three years ago was messing around with some sort of new wireless mesh standard with Lighting Science Group.  Well, big crazy Google just spent a whooping $3.2 billion on Nest.

With other big players like Samsung also planning to dominate the home automation scene, the question quickly falls to standards:  All of this stuff will be IP connected, but will any of it work together?

In a very relevant interview, Steve Horowitz, VP of Product Marketing at Google-owned Motorola, had this to say to SlashGear at CES 2014:

SlashGear: Right now there isn’t one solid leader in the smart home space. Nest does, say, the thermostat, while Philips does the light bulbs, and Yale does the automatic bolts…

Steve Horowitz: “The commonality is the app. Yes, there’s no protocol or one leader that offers everything; I think that’s frankly healthy. I think innovation comes from competition, so the fact that there are multiple companies that are all out there, providing different solutions, the commonality being that they’re connected to the internet. So IP is the connectivity; it’s not that there’s one interface or protocol that everyone is going to get behind. It’s just the fact that they’re all connected is going to open up possibilities that are pretty amazing.”

“So if you think about contextually-aware phones, the fact that you have an app or even an interface, through an IP layer, means that at some point … I know Nest, you can go to the app, and you can dial up the temperature if you’re coming home early. Well, why can’t your phone automatically know where you are – which it does – and be able to talk to, I mean this doesn’t happen yet, but automatically configure your temperature for you without you having to do a thing. So I think that’s kind of where we’re headed, where your phone, because it’s the thing that’s always with you, it’s going to be the center of all this stuff.”

This is a very scary future:  The interconnected home of the future will depend on great software (most likely mobile-based) for a seamless experience.  There will be few, if any software standards that automate the general consumer experience, such as auto-recognition of devices, auto-commissioning, etc.  So software makers will have to maintain expensive driver libraries for other manufacturer’s proprietary hardware.  Not scared yet?  Ever try to program a “smart remote”?  Or how about the drudgery of screwing around with device drivers on your computer?  Or what about finding a device driver for something that is a few years old??  Good luck with that!