Google gets into home automation with $3.2 billion buy of smoke alarm company
We wrote this fall about a new smoke/CO detector so smart it can talk to home residents and tell them if there’s a fire or dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Now Google likes that detector—called Nest Protect—and other products made by California-based Nest Labs so much that it is buying the smoke alarm company for $3.2 billion.
The deal, announced this week, is Google’s second largest acquisition so far, after its 2012 purchase of Motorola, a mobile phone maker, according to news reports.
The Wall Street Journal reported this week that “Nest has the lion’s share of the nascent market for ‘smart’ thermostats and recently began selling smart smoke detectors.”
The WSJ also says, “Analysts and executives see Nest as a beachhead for Google to expand its place in the home.” Nest will retain its brand, according to news sources. It will be interesting to see what it and Google will do in the home automation space with Google's big bucks behind the effort.
Here’s more of what Nest had to say about its new detector back in the fall when it was released:
The Nest Protect detector speaks and gives users a vocal “heads up,” telling them what it detects before emitting an alarm. It can be silenced with the wave of a hand and will send messages to integrated mobile devices to ask for new batteries.
“We’ve all experienced the smoke alarm going off while we’re cooking or searched for the source of that incessant low-battery chirp in the middle of the night,” said Tony Fadell, founder and CEO of Nest. Fadell, a former Apple executive, said those annoyances lead people to trust their alarms less, or turn them off to stop the noise.
The company says studies have shown children sleep through beeps, but wake up to the sound of voices, so Nest Protect features a female voice alarm to help wake sleeping children.
Nest Protect senses heat, carbon monoxide and smoke levels as they rise to offer early warnings. The device shows its sensors and batteries are working with a green glow when lights are turned off. Multiple devices in a single home connect, sending alarms throughout the house when problems are detected.