Nest wants to take on Apple in the smart home

Google-owned startup Nest Labs is opening its platform to outside developers as it looks to establish itself as the operating system of choice for connected devices in the home.

Using Nest, customers will be able to communicate with products made by Whirlpool Corp, Mercedes-Benz and Logitech, amongst other devices.

Nest co-founder, Matt Rogers, explained that customers currently use Google’s personal digital assistant, Google Now, to set the temperature on the Nest thermostat automatically when it detects the user coming home. Nest will also share user information with other companies, but only once the consumer opts in for each individual device.

The Nest thermostat will act as an information hub for the home’s smart devices, with partner products like Whirlpool’s washer and dryers and LIFX’s connected light bulbs, linking their software to the Nest operating system.

The latest development comes as several companies vie for a head start in the lucrative smart home market. It is estimated that half of all US households with a broadband Internet connection will own at least one smart device by 2022, up from roughly 12 per cent currently. Earlier this month, Apple revealed its own suite of tools for controlling appliances in the home, called HomeKit, while smaller platforms such as Quirky’s Wink are also trying to establish themselves.

Nest has claimed that over 5,000 developers are interested in working with its operating system as the company branches out to external developers in the search for the connected home’s “killer app”.

Tom Kerber, director of home controls and energy research at Parks Associates, explained how important the news was to the smart home industry. 

“I don’t care how big your company is, you don’t have as big an army as the app development community,” he said. “Opening it up and allowing app developers to innovate for you allows the platform to be much more powerful.”