When Google acquired Nest earlier on this year, among the inevitable privacy concerns came the introduction to the wider public of the so called Internet of Things. A world in which the ‘Smart Home’ is as ubiquitous as the Smartphone, the Internet of Things envisages billions of connected devices that can all communicate with one another.
Control Your Heating From Your Phone
The technology developed by Nest is what is known as ‘home automation’, where products like their thermostat algorithmically learn your patterns and routines and automatically adjust the temperature for you, without you needing to set a program.
The more interesting element of this technology is the ability to control it via an app. If you’re on your way home on a cold night, you can turn the central heating on via your phone to be welcomed by a toasty warm house.
It is this ‘connectivity’ that represents the biggest technological jump, paving the way for interconnected devices that can all talk to one another and act in sync.
With 50 billion devices expected to be connected to the internet by 2020, a fundamental requirement will be interoperability between different devices. This will require a system that allows us to uniquely identify different entities and a semantic framework that describes what each device is, and how to exchange data with it.
In the meantime, however, it is likely that we’ll continue to control individual devices via apps on our phones or tablets. As these ‘appcessories’ (an accessory that works via an app) become increasingly ubiquitous, almost everything we do will be connected, tracked and analysed.
Why Is Google Interested?
Google makes money when users are on the internet, this much we know. Google needs to increase profits to satisfy shareholders, so any acquisition will certainly have some sort of financial driver behind it. But why are Google so interested in becoming a hardware company?
In short, they simply want to get more people using the internet. Any increase in speed or accessibility of the internet serves this goal, as is evident when you examine any of their flagship products: Chrome, Android, Google+, Fiber, Drive, Chromebook, Chromecast, Glass. All of these are focused on speed and accessibility to the internet, as more people on the internet equals more people engaging in revenue generating activities.
Google have been at the forefront of the development of the semantic web, and their unparalleled access to data will allow them to push this technology forward, helping solve the interoperability issue which will enable connected devices to really take off.
The acquisition of Nest is Google’s first play in The Internet of Things, but it most certainly will not be their last. This is part of a long term strategy to push us towards a connected world.
After all, if we are always online, we are always their customer.