With Nest Purchase, Google Will Know Even More About You

Google seems determined to compete with the government in compiling methods of spying on the public. It already knows all the intimate details of what you search for online and how you use your smartphones and tablets via Android, and its recent acquisition of social-navigation system Waze will allow the Mountain View, Calif.-based tech giant to keep tabs on where you are going, what you are doing, and how you got there.

Chromecast can give the folks at Google a good picture of your entertainment viewing habits, too. Now, even more data about you could be streaming out of your homes and into the eager hands of Google, courtesy of an unlikely source: your thermostat.

Google announced earlier this week that it had purchased Nest Labs, maker of self-programming digital thermostats and other gadgets for the home, for $3.2 billion in cash, subject to closing conditions and regulatory approval.

Turning up the Heat

It's not the first foray beyond the computer and mobile Internet industry for Google's billionaire founders. The company is also investing heavily in wind power. But smart devices for the home are a growth industry, and it's not necessarily the sale of the hardware itself that holds the profit.

Smart devices are increasingly infiltrating homes, from entertainment systems that know your preferences to refrigerators that can keep track of groceries, and, washing machines that set themselves by sensing laundry items. Nest's devices allow you to use smartphones and tablets to enter settings that the devices will remember. In addition to the thermostat, Nest also makes a smart smoke alarm.

"[Google] tried to capture information about what people did in their homes by scanning Wi-Fi access points and got slapped by a variety of governments," technology analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group told us.

"But if they still want that information, what better...

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