Google controls your browser, your files, your email, and more. In future could they also manage your school building as well?
Last week the technology world was abuzz with the news that Google had acquired home automation company Nest. Nest was founded by a group of ex-Apple employees, and their products reflect Apple’s user experience and design language.
Just Apple wasn’t the first to sell a smartphone or tablet, Nest isn’t the first to market an Internet connected thermostat, or a smoke/carbon monoxide alarm. But Nest products have that same spark of innovation that made the iPhone so disruptive in the mobile market and, most importantly, make consumers pay over the odds for beautiful gadgets.
Google and Home Automation
The “Internet of Things” is a buzzword that’s thrown around a lot at the moment. It describes a world where usually separate physical objects are connected via the Internet — usually to a central service. As processors become cheaper and smaller, eventually every item in our homes — our furniture, clothes, even our food — will contain a tiny computer capable of wirelessly transmitting, processing, and receiving data. Everything in your home will be able to transmit its location and state to a cloud service and allow you to monitor and take action on the data provided.
Google wants to organise the world and they are unarguably the most successful at doing so in the online space, but much of the “real world” is still out of their reach. Projects like Google Street View and Google Maps began as a way to overlay and organise the outside world, now Google is reaching out of the online space into our homes.
In 2011, Google announced Android@home. The concept was to create an cheap open ecosystem of controllable interconnected devices — audio systems, lights, and the classic example, your refrigerator — which could all be monitored by via an online system. But Android@Home has been slow to develop and Google instead appears to be looking at end-to-end home automation services instead of developing an open ecosystem.
Google has a solid back-end in Google Apps into which they can plug and pull together all of their disparate services. In the same way that Apple intended iTunes to be the hub of our media world, Google wants to become the centre of our home.
Already users can hook in Android and Chromebook devices to their Google Apps domain to centrally control and monitor the devices. As we move forward it makes sense that Google wants to know more about how we run our homes, businesses, and schools.
Would You Let Google Manage Your School Building?
Schools are being asked how much of their data do they want to trust to cloud services, but long term how much of your data would you be willing to hand over to Google in return for convenient, cheap building services? Would you allow Google to manage your school’s alarm system, your lunch payment system, your CCTV monitoring? Let me know in the comments.