Microsoft is interested in home automation and recently announced an agreement to work with an insurance company on home automation technology. Its Xbox gaming platform is seen as a potential hub or control center for home devices. With Apple, Samsung and others “still developing their own independent strategy, the industry is yet again poised to create a Tower of Babel situation in terms of inter-device communications. Google has also shown interest in home automation. Smart thermostat maker Nest Labs plans to soon start sharing some customer data with Google, its corporate parent, and that means the search engine giant will have to address users’ privacy concerns as it expands into the home automation market. Recently, Nest unveiled a program to allow third parties to integrate their devices and appliances with the company’s smart thermostats and smoke detectors.
The goal is to help people create fully connected homes in which a multitude of devices and appliances can communicate securely with each other to manage energy consumption and enhance safety and convenience. For instance, if a Nest system were integrated with a fitness wristband or with a car’s onboard computer system, the Nest thermostat would know to adjust its temperature setting accordingly when the wristband reports that the wearer has awakened, or when the car sends an alert indicating that the user has arrived home or is leaving. Several companies have already announced plans to participate in the Nest developer program, including Mercedes Benz, Whirlpool, fitness band maker Jawbone, Logitech and Chamberlain, a maker of home lighting controls and smartphone-based garage door openers. In fact, more than 5,000 developers have expressed interest in participating in the developer program, according to Nest.