There’s my thermostat now, a squared-off plain looking fellow named White Rogers. He hangs over my shoulder and mocks me three or four times a day for not being smart enough, or responsible enough, to program him. "Hey! I’m BUSY HERE, TRYING TO TRANSFORM THE MARKET FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY, and you, Mr. White Rogers, are a daily pain in my side. I can’t read you. You don’t even know what time it is, but I do, it's time you get dumped! I’m going over to the Apple store to pick up my own personal HER -- a Nest Learning Thermostat. She understands me. I can communicate with her. She glows."
On the surface, Nest has built an eye-catching beauty. "Wow, hey Baby, I saw you from across the room. Aren’t you that supermodel thermostat that I’ve heard so much about?"
Anyone could have - should have - made thermostats user friendly and beautiful years ago. So what took so long… anyone, Honeywell?The true innovation behind NEST Learning Thermostat is machine learning, artificial intelligence, sensing and control – all the attributes of a true robot.
From the robotics perspective, acquisition of Nest Labs fits with Google's robotic 'moonshot' initiative: http://venturebeat.com/2013/12/24/where-is-googles-robotics-moonsho...
Nest Thermostat learning technology development has been led by a neuro-roboticist and 2007 MacArthur Fellow, Yoky Matsuoka. Google can probably leverage Nest Labs' assets across multiple business sectors: utility DSM; virtual power plants; Internet of things; home automation; robotics; big data; and, why not advertising, too?
There has been some outcry from privacy advocates envisioning HVAC contractor ads on Google’s Nest thermostat dial. Maybe so, I imagine Nest will soon be able to sense when your AC is about fail and solicit you to call the contractor for repair before it dies on the hottest day of the year.
From the new product development standpoint, Nest gives Google a strong vertical market opportunity for home automation, Internet of things and the coming robotics revolution (autonomous vehicle anyone?) because the thermostat/home energy management market is underserved.
Google could make headway with Nest because it’s easy to adopt as an affordable stand-alone device that offers high financial payback. It requires no behavior change. Indeed – it relieves consumers of financial burden of high energy bills while doing social good for the environment -- powerful drivers for substituting appealing new technology in place of the ugly junk now hanging in 119 million homes.
The Nest Learning Thermostat looks like an innovation that could help transform the market for home automation (and energy efficiency) to “cross the chasm” from innovators/early adopters to gain traction with the early majority. This could be an opportunity for the Home Performance industry to grow through consumer engagement as part of the home automation ecosystem.
A possible paradox with Nest Learning Thermostat is that it could help achieve high levels of consumer engagement with energy efficiency, even though it is a device that autonomously manages home energy use. The technology is so sexy that even disengaged energy consumers may be enchanted to do more energy efficiency upgrades…. Or, on second thought, maybe they'll just buy more robotic gadgets, like a self-driving car. Who knows? Google probably already has that data, too.
Nest Learning Thermostat may well be a beachhead for disruptive technology in consumer technology at home. Vigilant home energy organizations can leverage emerging technology to grow the home performance market with innovative products and services.