By Stuart Soffer
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About this blog: Growing up in Brooklyn, NY I lived in high-density housing and experienced transit-oriented services first hand. During high school and college summers I worked in Manhattan drafting tenant floor plans for high-rise office buildi... (More)
About this blog: Growing up in Brooklyn, NY I lived in high-density housing and experienced transit-oriented services first hand. During high school and college summers I worked in Manhattan drafting tenant floor plans for high-rise office buildings. This could have been a career option, but my interest in computers - unusual at the time - led me to the computer science program at the University of Wisconsin. A programming job on Page Mill Road brought me to Palo Alto after college. Since 1993 I consult on bridging law and technology, and serve as an expert witness in Intellectual Property litigation. We moved to Menlo Park's Linfield Oaks neighborhood in 1994. Neighborhood traffic issues motivated my initial volunteering as a Menlo Park Planning Commissioner, followed by a stint as a Chamber of Commerce board member and most recently a finance/audit committee member. I advocate community volunteering for meeting people, the neighborhoods, and understanding the myriad issues that somehow arise. As hobbies I collect contemporary art and vintage cameras. And? fly helicopters, which offer rare views of the nooks and crannies of the Bay Area. (Hide)
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What?s Next for Nest?
Uploaded: Jan 17, 2014
Earlier this week Google announced that it would purchase Nest for $3.2 Billion. I am a fan of both companies, both innovators for which the Valley is known. But frankly I had some reservations.
Nest makes home integration and control technology, originally for a thermostat. I always found analog, battery thermostats a challenge, never having instructions, never programming them often enough to know how to schedule a week of heating or cooling. This probably wasted a lot of energy. Along comes Nest designing a simple product in the tradition of Apple that replaces your old analog thermostat wire-for wire. As long as you have wireless in the house, you can control the Nest devices via mobile applications. In the year and a half since I installed the Nest our utility bills went way down (to be fair, we also remodeled which installed insulation for the first time).
I was seduced by a neighbor's Nest, but was reluctant to install it due to privacy concerns. (I study Internet privacy issues as new technologies proliferate.) Key to Nest intelligence is the sensors and software that can recognize when you're away from home and automatically reduce usage. So, it can tell when you're away and so can Nest Inc. There is a tradeoff here between convenience and privacy. Still I'm a fan of the device for its simplicity and how it elegantly solved a common problem. And I know management at Nest who insist there is no privacy issue.
Which brings me to the acquisition by Google. Google is a great data aggregator from multiple sources, and analyzes user interests and behavior to provide improved product offering. And the Nest data is potentially one more vector in their analysis. That 's a concern.
What is it worth to you?
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