As technology giants work towards establishing themselves in the market for the internet of things, the smart home appears to be one of the most popular mediums for new connected technologies. This month alone has seen announcements from the likes of Apple and Google — both gunning for more market share of the connected home sector. But Google’s subsidiary — Nest Labs — is doing its own work, under the Mountain View-based company’s auspices, to improve its already quite-advanced smart home software.
VISUAL CONTEXT: THE SMART HOME MARKET
Nest is known for its innovative thermostats that are internet-connected, and which enable users to monitor their home energy usage remotely. Google’s purchase of the company earlier this year for $3.2 billion was its signal that Google intends to take its smart home presence to the next level. Despite the takeover, Nest retained some of its autonomy — it has most recently purchased Dropcam for $555 million — and revealed that it is opening its platform to enable third-party developers to create software for its devices.
Dropcam — a company that makes tracking devices and home video monitoring systems that can be controlled remotely — seems like a natural member of the Google/Nest family as they work to make the smart home a reality. Reuters notes that over 5,000 developers have already expressed interest in creating software or applications for Nest — particularly as it builds relationships with other home appliance companies such as Whirlpool or garage door firms.
But a bigger question for technology companies and consumers alike is the one of how utility companies can play into this new market for smart home ownership, and how they will integrate with these new home technologies. Greentech Media cites an Accenture study done to gauge the engagement of U.S. users with these new home options. It found that although only 7% of U.S. households have already signed up for monitoring and control products, more than half of respondents said they were interested in getting connected home services from their energy provider. Greg Guthridge, managing director in Accenture’s global utilities practice and lead author of the report said:
It was quite surprising, and encouraging, to find that customers still prefer their energy provider for new energy products and services, such as solar panels and connected-home solutions, over and above new industry entrants such as retailers or phone and cable companies, despite the latter’s much publicized push into the energy market.
Of course, these advancements in smart home tech and connected devices do not come without some security worries — most of which stem from Google’s ownership of the aforementioned companies and the fear that it will have access to all of the data and video feeds of a user’s home. But, as the balance between homeowner security and energy efficiency shakes out, it will be a market to watch over the next several years.