The weirdly-synched life of the Google Nest household

Like The Truman Show, only in the cloud

2001: A Space Odyssey

Along with World+Dog, Google is trumpeting its Internet of Things vision at CES. It's pure accident that it looks, to the sceptical eye, like a world in which there's a single API to invade everybody's lives.

At first glance it looks like the typical Utopian vision of Silicon Valley, but Vulture South took a second look and asked ourselves: “what kinds of life does Google think we live?”

The short answer: wealthy, lazy, and either lonely or in a strange 1950's-sitcom family synchronisation. Everybody rises and sleeps at the same time, everybody leaves and arrives together, and we're rich enough to have 'leccy cars but too poor to charge them.

The most obvious believer in the synchronised family is appliance giant Whirlpool. Its Nest integration can “let your washer and dryer know when you’re home and they will automatically switch to quiet mode”. Unless only one occupant is recognised, that means the only time the appliances are allowed to let their hair down and party is when everyone's away.

The August Smart Lock will tell Nest to change your thermostat settings when you arrive (warm the house up) or leave (switch off the heating) – which begs the question “what if I lock the front door while other people are still at home?” At least the Kwikset Kevo smart lock understands that more than one person might be in a household.

The Withings Sleep System: when you go to sleep it will “let your Nest Thermostat to a comfortable nighttime temperature. Wake up and it will tell Nest you’re ready to start the day.” Once again, the idea that a household might have sleep and wake times staggered by hours seems alien to the developer.

Nest plus Chargepoint will let you sign in for a separate service to keep watch over electricity prices, so that your electric car can avoid charging when demand is high. You can spend the savings on the taxi you need when an emergency arises.

There's also the Ooma VoIP home phone, which will tell you if someone breaks schedule – “your kid doesn’t come home from school on time”. It will also auto-forward calls when you leave the house. There's that synchronised life thing again, since calls are only forwarded when Nest is in “Away” mode; if you leave the home but your partner stays behind, calls aren't forwarded.

And Philips' Hue will flash the lights if you don't notice that the Nest alarm has gone off.

And in all of this, there's the inevitable thing-to-cloud-to-app integration: whether it's the washer or the lock, the car charger or the phone, everything talks to someone's cloud service.

Surely El Reg can't be the only collection of humans to wonder which Nest partner is going to be the first to get hacked? Does the world need a single API to let a burglar into the house? ®




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