How Nest is Bringing the Home to the 21st Century

Nest, a company recently acquired by Google, already has its smarthome products on the shelves both in the UK, and across the pond in the US and Canada.  You’ve probably already heard of its two products – the Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm, and the Nest Learning Thermostat. On the surface, these just seem like superfluous internet-connected devices, which is semi true – they are connected to the internet, however there’s a lot more going on inside the Nest ecosystem than you probably realise. 

The Nest Thermostat

Nest Thermostat

First let’s take a look at the Nest Learning Thermostat:

The Nest Thermostat is more than just a thermostat you control from your phone – it’s smart and begins to learn about your home, and how best to heat it; it uses an array of sensors and talks to other Nest products to make sure your home is heated as efficiently as possible. That’s not all, Nest has an auto away mode that uses data and sensors from other Nest products (Nest Smoke alarm) to detect if you’re away and will turn temperatures down to save money. When Nest is saving you money a green leaf appears on the display.

Other features include the ability to set the temperature you want your home to be when you return. Nest will begin to learn about your routines anyway and will heat your house accordingly, however if you’re going to be home early, set the time and temperature and it will have the house heated by the time you arrive. With the app and website you can track how much energy you’ve saved and used with Nest.

With the recent update to thermostat software it’s now smarter than ever. The new software has even better auto scheduling, and is getting better at learning about changes in your household faster, further optimizing the efficiency of your home. The new quick view now shows you more information, such as the outdoor conditions and weather, as well as indoor temperature and humidity. Other information it now displays, is information about your schedules, fans, and energy history and usage. You can get the Nest thermostat from:

Google Play Amazon UK Amazon US Amazon Canada

 Nest Protect Smoke + CO Alarm

Nest Protect The Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm, is far more than just an alarm. Packed inside this little package is a WiFi radio, three activity sensors, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, humidity, heat, and ambient light sensors as well as WiFi antennas. Nest uses this array of sensors to better detect if there’s a danger in your home or not. For example, a recent software update to the alarm means Nest will check the humidity level before sounding an alarm, to try to reduce false alarms. Even if you do get a false alarm, all you need to is wave at the Nest Protect which uses the activity sensors to detect your motion.

What Nest will also do is, if smoke is detected it will notify you via a mobile notification, allowing you to hush the alarm before it sounds. Not only that, as all the Nest devices are connected together, the smoke alarms will speak and tell you where smoke has been detected.  If things start to escalate Nest will begin to flash red and sound the alarm, and then will speak to you telling you what you need to know.

Nest uses its ambient light sensors to detect when the lights have been turned out. When this happens the Nest ambient light will glow different colours to signal information to you. Using a traffic light system it makes it clear the severity of the issue. If Nest is green, there’s no issue, if it glows yellow there’s a problem. Push the Nest button and it will speak to you and tell you what is wrong. So for example if the batteries are low, all you need do is change them. It’s a much better system than hearing an alarm chirp all through the night. It comes in two variants – battery and wired – and other than how they’re the powered, the only difference in the feature set is that the wired version has a light that will glow if you walk under it in the dark.  You can get Nest protect from:

Google Play Amazon UK  Amazon US Amazon Canada

The clever bit

The Nest systems are all interconnected and this is where things begin to get clever. Using the array of sensors within Nest Protect, the system begins to learn how your house is heated from room to room, so Nest begins to learn when and what temperatures to set your heating systems to efficiently heat your house to the temperature you find comfortable.  This is also how auto away learns when your house is empty to save money on energy bills. If Nest Protect detects carbon monoxide, it will tell your Nest Thermostat and it will turn off your boiler, which is often the source of a carbon monoxide leak.

Even though a lot of what Nest does is proprietary, it still works with other products and services. Take the Jawbone Up 24 for example, it will detect when you wake up and Nest will begin to heat your home before you even begin to get out of bed. If you have a Dropcam set up in the same room as a Nest smoke alarm, Dropcam will save a clip of the room and allow you to see what went wrong and why the alarm sounded later on. It also works with Google Now – you can set your home temperature just by talking to Google.

If Nest detects you’re away, LIFX lights will turn on to make it seem as if you’re at home, even if you’re on holiday. Another big service that Nest connects to is IFTTT. With IFTTT you can build custom alerts and recipes based on Nest inputs. So if your Nest protect has low batteries, you can receive an email for example. Or if Nest Protect detects a carbon monoxide emergency, you can have a text message alerting your neighbour.

Images and video via the Nest website

About Mathew Hanley

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