Google has released a smarthome appliance in the UK for the first time via their recent acquisition Nest’s flagship smart thermostat. Just pop it on your wall and let it intelligently monitor your lifestyle and create heating patterns to increase efficiency. It’s always connected and always watching, just like Google.
Of course, there are undeniable benefits to such a device and the sleek gadget factor will surely appeal to the bleeding edge technophiles. There is a certain charm to the notion of leaving work to discover that it’s a particularly chilly evening and being able to quickly whip out your smartphone and remotely turn up your thermostat so your house is nice and warm by the time you get home.
It’s not exactly cheap though (£249 to have it installed) and while it has an appealing Apple-worthy industrial design does it warrant replacing the traditional timer thermostat we have all become accustomed to?
Google certainly thinks so, touting the energy cost savings (up to 20% per annum on heating/cooling) which resonates with consumers. In the UK market though, cooling isn’t a problem. The predictably grim climate means Air con units are a very rare sight in homes, so that 20% reduction in costs might drop closer to 10%. Will that cover the £250 outlay?
I think you could just as easily argue for as against on those grounds as a long term investment etc.
More fundamentally though, do people want a home filled with connected smart appliances right now?
Progress is slow but it marches on and I don’t doubt our homes will eventually be connected with every other part of our digital life. Whether or not Google is the company to do that only time will tell, they have the money and resources to make it happen but equally that does mean another avenue of privacy that we give up to the search giant who profits from knowing us like no one else.
Combine your Android smartphone with the built in Gmail, contacts, G+, photo backups, Hangouts, access to your contacts, location, browser history and communication history with 24/7 information on how you live in your home day to day and it’s a pretty comprehensive picture of your life to provide to one all seeing company.
Paranoia and recent privacy scandals aside, it must also be considered that having one platform working across your digital life unifies your experience and makes an increasingly complex digital life a whole lot simpler.
You just have to ask – who do you trust?
For me, products like Nest’s smart thermostat finally mark the real beginning of things to come in the journey to a truly smart home.
Even if it does remind me of HAL 9000.