In a recent report I wrote for Gigaom on emerging technology interfaces, I outlined three defining changes that the consumer technology “experience”
will is undergoing over the course of the next decade.
Basically it went something like this - Consumer technologies, as a whole, are getting more:
Contextual - technology you are using will better understand you, the world around you, the moment in time. In other words, context.
Anticipatory - technology is increasingly anticipating your future needs rather than just reacting to place-in-time commands. It will know you are going home and turn the heat on, start the oven, and so on. Antipatory.
Continuous - Technology experiences are no longer islands, but will seamlessly continue from one life “zone” to the next. The experience you are having now will be recognized and continue (in a way that is deemed appropriate and contextual) into the next space. An example would be your TV will know to turn on to the game as you walk into your home from the garage since were you listening to it in your car.
Of course, the reasons for these changes are well understood. I created a basic graphic (see below) for the same report, in which I outlined how new interfaces, cloud computing, emerging network technologies - as well the related trends within these bigger trends like big data and social graph - are all contributing to these changes.
The reason I bring all of this up is that I think today’s news of "Works With Nest" program and the opening of its API are part and parcel of the move towards this new convergence and the resulting changes to the technology “experience” we are witnessing.
If you don’t believe me, watch the video below. You can see all three changes highlighted throughout the video as Nest new hardware partners outline various scenarios: A Mercedes telling the Nest it’s coming home to turn on the lights (anticipatory, continuous), a Jawbone Up letting Nest know if you’ve gotten up early (anticipatory, contextual), LIFX smart bulbs and Nest Protect working together to signal emergency events and even using color coding to communicate which kind (contextual).
Google Now, Google’s own anticipatory and contextual assistant, is one of the apps that has access to the Nest API. Nest took pains to make sure everyone knows Google is getting no special treatment here and that privacy will be respected. All that said, I have no doubt Google Now will become an important interface over time for Nest devices for those who use Android devices.
The Nest API announcement is big news, coming (maybe not so coincidentally?) the day after Quirky announced their Wink spinout and a bevy of hardware company partnerships. One thing that I saw in some of the sub-text in both announcements is the idea that a discrete smart home hub is something both companies see as temporary. Nest is bypassing it altogether by making its learning thermostat the smart home hub, while Quirky/Wink made it known that while they will sell a hub to start, the hub business itself is something they do not want to be in the long run.