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Internet of Things – What to expect from Google?

According to Gartner, The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment. IoT, which excludes PCs, tablets and smartphones, is expected to grow to 26 billion units installed in 2020 which will exceed smartphone and tablets count by that time. Gartner also predicts that there will be around $300 billion opportunity to products and service providers in this space.

Last week’s acquisition of Nest Labs (https://nest.com/), a 300 employee company by Google for $3.2 billion is just the beginning of consolidation around hardware, services and software all together. In case you are not aware of Nest’s major products, here is brief description:

Nest Thermostat: Maintaining your home temperature at right level and time is manual task so far. With Nest’s thermostat which learns the schedule, preference and program itself to meet individual’s needs. It can be also accessed and programmed with your mobile phone. If you forgot to turn off while you leave your home, it will turn the air-conditioning system automatically. This saves energy and reduces electricity bills by 20%. The Nest Learning Thermostat costs $249 only.

Smoke + Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarm: An intelligent home alarm system which detects smoke / CO levels and tells you what the problem is and where it is in human voice before it start alarm. In case this warning is just due to spicy food you are making in kitchen you can wave your hands below it and make it calm. You can also get notifications on your phone if the alarm goes off. It costs just $129 only.

According to Tony Fadell, CEO of Nest, Nest and Google were in discussion for long time and he had meeting with Sergey Brin in 2011 and had showed him what Nest was working on then. In his blog he also mentioned that “Nest will continue to be Nest, with its own distinct brand identity. We will continue to reimagine and reinvent the unloved products that proliferate in our homes, just as we have since we started. We are simply going to get our products into the hands of people around the world – faster.” (https://nest.com/blog/2014/01/13/welcome-home/)

Based on what Nest products are and what Google has to offer overall it looks like Google has big plans to come inside your home too. Through the sensors which detects temperature, motion, light, humidity, etc and connected to the global network on internet devices, google (and others as well) is trying to connect air-conditioning, television, refrigerator, microwave ovens, etc all together and provide you intelligence home ecosystem. You will probably get to know what food is inside your refrigerator and when it is going to get expired, you will also get to know what food supplies your kids are consuming, which Television programs your kids are watching and is your home really safe when you are away from it.

Though these intelligent / connected devices capture data about and around you adjust themselves to your specific needs and patterns, they carry threat of maliciously getting hacked and attached by the hackers. Would you like your refrigerator malfunction and impact your food?  

Just 3 days back – on 16th Jan 2014, ProofPoint, Inc a leading security-as-a-service provider uncovered first IoT based cyberattack involving household smart appliances. The global attack campaign involved 750,000 malicious mails coming from more than 100,000 consumer gadgets like TVs, multi-media centers, and at least one refrigerator, etc that has been used to initiate attack.

While IoT brings in huge business opportunities to service providers and benefits to technology adopters, what comes first is bulletproof security to network, data and devices. I hope Google through its expertise in security space will be able to do it and hopefully we will not lose any privacy at our own homes.

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