Google's Nest Labs Offers Smart Home Tech to Other Firms, Devs
Nest Labs, the Google-owned developer of the Nest smart thermostat, plans to open up its Weave communication protocol to make it easier for developers and companies to build new products for the connected home. Developed by Nest specifically for its own products, Weave enables devices to "talk" with one another even if they're not large enough or high-powered enough to run Wi-Fi independently.
A number of companies -- including GE, P&G and Philips -- have already committed to using Nest Weave in their own products. Philips, for example, has integrated its hue smart lighting technology with Nest's camera technology so that home lights will turn on automatically when the Nest Cam detects motion around a house when the owners are away.
Nest is now opening up its camera API so other developers can create devices that integrate with the Nest Cam. The company also plans to launch a new Works with Nest Store later this year.
'Thoughtful,' Rather than 'Smart," Homes
Rather than touting its technology's potential for making homes smarter, Nest said it aims to help people create homes that are "thoughtful." What that means is eliminating some of the more complicated and less automated aspects of current technologies that require a lot of advance programming by users.
As Nest founder and head of engineering Matt Rogers [pictured] noted today in a blog post on the company's Web site, a "thoughtful home" means that "[l]ights automatically turn off when no one's home. Stereos quiet down when a Nest Protect alarm goes off. And washing machines know not to run when energy is in high demand. All without any programming."
Today's announcements mean that Nest will be able to take those ambitions even further by allowing third-party developers and partners to build new apps and products that can be easily integrated into a Nest-equipped home. As homeowners add new devices, their home environments can become progressively smarter in an easy-to-use, basically plug-and-play way.
Focus on 'Peace-of-Mind' Apps
That ease of use will be enabled with the help of Weave, a communication protocol that Nest said is "reliable, compact, secure and scalable." Built on the Thread IPv6 networking protocol, Weave uses a mesh network to connect devices so they can keep working even if another device or the home Wi-Fi goes down.
Weave, along with Nest cloud services and the Nest app integration, will be available to developers sometime next year, the company said.
These latest developments from Nest are "kind of an expected next step," Frank Gillet, a Forrester Research Inc. analyst covering IoT, told us. Having already invited developers and other companies to integrate their offerings through the Works with Nest program, the firm's latest move to open up Nest Weave and the Nest Cam API "really shows their trajectory," Gillett said.
"They really want to create a coherent environment in the home for connecting a lot of gadgets," he said. With a focus on "peace-of-mind" applications such as lighting, door locks and even a smart onesie and monitor for babies, Nest's approach covers "an important and interesting set of smart home activities," Gillett added.
With the access it's providing to its Weave protocol and a number of large brand-name companies already involved, Nest currently seems to be "more accessible" than, for example, the smart-home efforts by Samsung or Apple, Gillett said. "They're further down the path and now building natural integration," he said. "I think this is a big deal."