Nest Labs

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Nest Labs
Subsidiary
Industry Home automation
Founded 2010
Headquarters Palo Alto, California, United States
Products Nest Learning Thermostat
Nest Protect (Smoke/CO Alarm)
Nest Cam Indoor
Nest Cam Outdoor
Nest App
Number of employees
1100 (2015)[1]
Parent Google (2014-2015)
Alphabet Inc.
(2015–present)
Website www.nest.com

Nest Labs is a home automation producer of programmable, self-learning, sensor-driven, Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats, smoke detectors, and other security systems. It introduced the Nest Learning Thermostat in 2011 as its first product. The Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector was then introduced in October 2013.[2] After the acquisition of Dropcam, the rebranded Nest Cam was introduced in June 2015. [3] Finally, in July 2016, the Nest Cam Outdoor was released. [4]

Co-founded by former Apple engineers Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers in 2010, the start-up company quickly grew to have more than 130 employees by the end of 2012.[5] Alphabet Inc. (Google) acquired Nest Labs for US$3.2 billion in January 2014, when it had 280 employees, continuing the Nest brand identity. In November 2015, Nest Labs had grown into more than 1100 employees, with a new engineering center in Seattle.[1][6][7]

History[edit]

Nest Labs was founded in 2010 by former Apple engineers Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers.[8] The idea came when Fadell was building a vacation home and found all of the available thermostats on the market to be inadequate, motivated to bring something better on the market.[6] Early investors in Nest Labs included Shasta Ventures and KPCB. On January 13, 2014, Google announced plans to acquire Nest Labs for $3.2 billion in cash. Google completed the acquisition the next day, on January 14, 2014.[9][10]

In June 2014, it was announced that Nest would buy camera startup Dropcam for $555 million.[11] With the purchase, Dropcam is tightly integrated with other Nest products; if the Protect alarm is triggered the Dropcam can automatically start recording, and the Thermostat can use Dropcam to sense for motion.[12]

In September 2014, the Nest Thermostat and Nest Protect became available in Belgium, France, Ireland and the Netherlands. Initially they are sold in approximately 400 retail stores across Europe with another 150 stores to be added by the end of the year.[13] In June 2015, the new Nest Cam, replacing the Dropcam, was announced, together with the second generation of the Nest Protect.[14]

In August 2015, Google announced plans to split Nest Labs from Google Inc. and for both to become subsidiaries of Alphabet Inc. in a corporate restructuring.[15] The restructuring led to Tony Fadell, the Nest CEO, to announce in a blog post in June 2016 that he was leaving the company he founded with Matt Rogers and stepping into an "advisory" role.[16] It culminated after months of rumors about Nest's demanding corporate culture under Fadell's leadership, and the displeasure of former Dropcam CEO Greg Duffy, who openly regretted selling his company to Nest. By June 2016, the Nest acquisition was described by some press as a "disaster" for Google.[17]

Nest's problems in 2016 stem in a large part due to a limited market. According to Frank Gillet of Forrester Research, only 6% of American households possess internet-connected devices such as appliances, home-monitoring systems, speakers, or lighting. He also predicted this percentage to grow to only 15% by 2021. Furthermore, 72% of respondents in a 2016 survey conducted by Pricewaterhouse Coopers did not foresee adopting smart-home technology over the next two to five years.[18]

Products[edit]

Nest Learning Thermostat[edit]

The Nest Learning Thermostat is an electronic, programmable, and self-learning Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat that optimizes heating and cooling of homes and businesses to conserve energy.[19] It is based on a machine learning algorithm: for the first weeks users have to regulate the thermostat in order to provide the reference data set. Nest can then learn people's schedule, at which temperature they are used to and when. Using built-in sensors and phones' locations it can shift into energy saving mode when it realizes nobody is at home.[20]

The Nest Thermostat's front screen
Generation Release Date
1st 25 Oct 2011
2nd 2 October 2012
3rd 1 September 2015
Nest Learning Thermostat showing weather's impact on energy usage

The Nest Thermostat is built around an operating system that allows interaction with the thermostat via spinning and clicking of its control wheel, which brings up option menus for switching from heating to cooling, access to device settings, energy history, and scheduling. Users can control Nest without a touch screen or other input device. As the thermostat is connected to the Internet, the company can push updates to fix bugs, improve performance and add additional features. For updates to occur automatically, the thermostat must be connected to Wi‑Fi and the battery must have at least a 3.7 V charge to give enough power to complete the download and installation of the update.[21]

The operating system itself is based on Linux 2.6.37 and many other free software components.[22] To comply with the terms of the GPLv3 license under which some components are available, Nest Labs also provides a special firmware image which will unlock the system so that it will accept unsigned firmware images. While the thermostat software by Nest Labs itself remains proprietary, a third party has reimplemented the basic logic in an open source replacement called FreeAbode.

Nest is currently available for sale in the United States, Canada[23] the United Kingdom.,[24] Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands. It is, however, compatible with many heating and cooling automation systems in other countries.[25] Nest Labs have surveyed existing users known to be outside the areas where it is officially available. Use of the thermostat outside the United States and Canada is complicated by the software setting time and other functions based on the ZIP code. For international users this means they must either disable Wi‑Fi to set the time correctly or use the nearest U.S. zipcode which may result in erratic behavior as the thermostat makes faulty assumptions about inactivity corresponding with either sleep or the home's occupants being away.[26]

Nest Protect[edit]

Nest Protect

In October 2013, Nest announced its second product, the Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector. The Nest Protect is available in both black and white (the black is exclusively sold through Nest directly[27]) and also comes in battery or AC-powered models. The Nest Protect features a multicolored light ring which is color-coded to indicate different operations, such as yellow to indicate an early warning or red if an alarm is sounding. The ring also has a motion detector which turns it white briefly when someone passes under to provide illumination. The Nest Protect is voice-activated and warns of an alarm sounding briefly before it does. It is also able to communicate with the Nest Thermostat to provide the Auto-Away feature information that someone is present in the house, as well as to shut off the furnace in the event of a fire or carbon monoxide. The Nest Protect also features a controversial Wave Silence feature to stop an alarm from sounding with a wave in the event of a potential false alarm. It is available for sale in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Ireland and the Netherlands.

On April 3, 2014, sales of the Nest Protect were suspended, due to the potential for the alarm feature to be accidentally disabled.[28] [29][30] 440,000 existing Nest Protect units were recalled because of this problem on May 21, 2014 and a software update was distributed to disable this functionality.[31][32]

On June 17, 2015, Nest launched a new version of the Nest Protect. It is the first smoke alarm to bring a commercial–grade photoelectric sensor to the home; called the Split-Spectrum Sensor – it uses two wavelengths of light to spot different kinds of smoke, which helps it catch both fast and slow-burning fires quickly. Additionally, due to the long-lasting carbon monoxide sensor, the Nest Protect lasts ten years. The new Nest Protect also has a feature called App Silence which lets you silence it using your smart device if you are not in the US or Canada.[33] Also, when you are not home, the smoke detector will test itself using a built in microphone. Safety Rewards allows Nest Protect users that have their insurance through American Family and Liberty Mutual to get savings off their bill.

Nest Cam Indoor[edit]

In June 2014, Nest acquired Dropcam, maker of the Dropcam security camera. In June 2015. Nest announced the Nest Cam, an upgraded and rebranded security camera based on the Dropcam. Features are a 1080p video resolution, a rotating, magnetic stand, night vision, two-way talk, sound and motion alerts and optional Nest Aware cloud services for an additional fee. It was renamed Nest Cam Indoor following the announcement of the Nest Cam Outdoor in July 2016.

Nest Cam Outdoor[edit]

Nest Cam Outdoor was announced in July 2016, and is a version of the Nest Cam adapted for outdoor monitoring. The main differences from the Nest Cam Indoor is in its design which is built to withstand outdoor conditions.

Works with Nest[edit]

Works with Nest is a program that allows third party devices to communicate with Nest products.

Compatible Products[edit]

Litigation[edit]

In February 2012, Honeywell filed a lawsuit claiming that some of its patents had been infringed by Nest; Nest has said that it will fight the lawsuit.

On April 12, 2012, Nest publicly announced they will see Honeywell all the way to court as they believe that none of the seven allegedly infringed patents were actually violated. Honeywell is claiming that Nest has infringed on patents pertaining to remotely controlling a thermostat, power-stealing thermostats, and thermostats designed around a circular, interactive design, similar to the Honeywell T87. However, Honeywell held patents that were almost identical to those that expired in 2004. Nest has taken the stance that they will see this through to a patent court as they suspect Honeywell is trying to harass them, litigiously and financially, out of business.[66]

On May 14, 2013, Allure Energy, Inc. ("Allure") was issued a patent by the USPTO titled "Auto-Adaptable Energy Management Apparatus." The very same day, Allure filed a lawsuit against Nest and two other defendants in the Eastern District of Texas alleging Nest was infringing their newly issued patent; the lawsuit is ongoing.[67]

On September 11, 2013, Nest announced that it entered into a patent license agreement with Intellectual Ventures. Additionally, Nest announced that it was acquiring several of Intellectual Venture's patents that will help Nest to better defend their products from patent infringement claims.[68] It is unclear how many patents Nest licensed and purchased from Intellectual Ventures.

On November 4, 2013, BRK Brands, Inc. ("BRK"), maker of the First Alert brand of smoke detectors, filed a lawsuit against Nest in the Illinois Northern District Court alleging Nest's newly released Nest Protect product infringes claims from six of its patents.[69][70]

In May 2016, an employee filed an unfair labor practice charge with Region 32 of the National Labor Relations Board against Nest and Google. In the charge, the employee alleged that he was terminated for posting information about Tony Fadell's poor leadership to a private Facebook page consisting of current and former employees. The charge also alleged that Nest and Google had engaged in unlawful surveillance and unlawful interrogation of employees in order to prevent them from discussing the work environment at Nest.[71][72]

Parody after Google acquisition[edit]

On May 7, 2014, German activist group Peng Collective released a parody website named Google Nest, satirizing Google’s privacy policies and practices with fake products imitating Google art style, supposedly created as a result "of an intensive period of studying user behavior" in response to the "public debate around privacy and government surveillance".[70][73][74] The site described four purported new services lampooning Google’s data gathering tendencies made possible with Nest's technology: Google Trust, Google Hug, Google Bee and Google Bye, respectively a "data insurance" paid with personal data, a location service encouraging in-person emotional interactions, a "personal drone", and a memorial website created from automatically collected information.[75]

The next day, Google trademark lawyers issued a cease-and-desist letter to Peng, asking them to change the site and to transfer the domain name to Google.[76] The site replaced its content with a note explaining the situation, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation responded on behalf of Peng with a public letter saying that noncommercial political commentary is not prohibited under trademark law,[76] and that the site wouldn't likely be confused after the ample press coverage received.[77]

Intentional disabling of hardware devices[edit]

In 2014 Nest acquired Revolv, a company that works with home automation. Nest announced on its website, in April 2016, that all Revolv Hub devices previously purchased and installed by customers would be permanently disabled and cease to operate the following month,[78] as Nest would shut down the Revolv servers that the US $300 "Revolv Hub" depended on.[79]

This led to extensive media criticism,[80] given the high cost of the hardware, and that customers had previously been assured of a "Lifetime Subscription". The Electronic Frontier Foundation stated that this set an unwelcome precedent for a company with ambitions to sell self-driving cars, medical devices, and other high-end gadgets that may be essential to a person’s livelihood or physical safety, arguing that the owners of Revolv hardware devices (and similar Google Nest products) should be allowed to point their devices at a different server, or collaborate on improved software, a practice which they argued was currently potentially in breach of the United States DMCA section 1201.

In April 2016, Google announced that it may offer compensation on a case-by-case basis to purchasers of Revolv products.[81]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Media related to Nest Labs at Wikimedia Commons