Since Google acquired Nest for $3.2 billion last week, current and prospective smart thermostat or smoke detector owners have been apprehensive about what Google might do with the company. In the last few days, a couple of companies have stepped forward with potential open source alternatives to the service and hardware that Nest offers, sans the new implications of Google ownership.
The original Nest is a smart thermostat that uses motion and temperature sensors to “learn” the routines and comfortable temperature zones of its owners. It can detect when no one is home, and it normalizes to a certain temperature range over time. Users control the Nest with an app and through a Web interface.
At Spark, four engineers set to work on an open source version of a smart thermostat using their own Spark Core, an Arduino-compatible Wi-Fi development board. They added in a humidity and temperature sensor, IR motion detector, and some LEDs and LED matrices to put together and mount inside a custom wood and acrylic enclosure.
Now, the development costs of most commercial products is actually a small part. as apple has shown, knowing how to package the hardware and create compelling software is critical.
Nest did both of these and sold for $3 billion. But the low development costs means that there will be many low end possibiities, some with very different business models than Google’s need for my data.
What Nest did was demonstrate a new area to create smart products with a cool design and software. What open source means is that others can rapidly adapt to these new areas.
And now companies can come into existence whose oly purpose is to provide these devices for the CUSTOMER’S use, not the company. This then puts pressure on companies like Google to actually do the right thing. Maybe