Monday, February 3, 2014

Robots and now Nest: What is Google going to do next?


Google has also become increasingly interested in robotics lately. In December, they acquired Boston Dynamics, along with at least seven other robotics firms.

Furthermore, Google now owns Nest Labs. With the recent acquisition of Nest Labs for $3.2 billion, we will soon see them make a move in the connected-home market. Nest Labs manufactures smart thermostats and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Google hopes to use this underlying technology to become a leader in the "Internet of Things."

Where is Google going with all of this?

Prior to the Nest Labs acquisition, iRobot's CEO Colin Angle speculated that Google was going to try to manufacture robots to make the package delivery service easier. For example, robots that could carry packages using complicated lifting and balancing mechanisms.

However, after Nest was acquired, speculation of what Google is going to do next has changed. It seems that Google is becoming interested in joining in on the connected-home market, a market in which iRobot is currently a leader.

Nest's smart thermostats and smoke detectors are just the beginning. Google is more interested in the technology underlying these devices. In the future, our home devices will all seamlessly connect in the "Internet of Things." Your smartphone will be able to connect with devices like your stove or thermostat. You will be able to preheat the oven on your way home or turn down the temperature in your house while you are at work.

If you are wondering what types of smart home devices we will see from Google, Frank Gillett, a Forrester Research analyst, predicts smart door bells, locks, humidity monitors, and baby monitors. Underlying all of these devices are sensors to gather information about the environment and a Wi-Fi chip to send this data to other devices.

With more smart home devices, Google will be able to acquire more data about its users. This data can be used to improve users lives. Some of these devices will be able to learn from our behaviors, using machine learning and artificial intelligence. For example, a thermostat could learn when we usually turn down the heat, such as when it is warm outside or when you are at work. Once it learns your behaviors, the thermostat could start changing the heat on its own to satisfy your needs.

There has been much speculation over where Google is headed. Neil Doshi, from CRT Capital, speculated that Google will venture into the home entertainment market. They already made a step into this market with Chromecast, allowing a user to easily stream online content to a television. After the acquisition, Colin Angle speculated that Google may create technologies to give senior citizens more autonomy.

In this day, we have cutting-edge smartphones, tablets, computers, and televisions. As a result, manufacturers are branching out to other devices. Google will be a pioneer in the connected-home movement, given their acquisition of Nest Labs and 8 other robotics companies in 2013. This is certainly something to get excited about!


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