Could Google’s acquisition of Nest have the potential to improve our future health?
In the last 12 months we have witnessed some incredible product developments and company acquisitions. From WhatsApp to Nest the news has been filled with the billion dollar headlines. Why are these companies worth so much? Is it the product offering, the engineer talent, the superstar management team or the data they are collecting? Perhaps it is a mix of all?
With the recent acquisition by Google, I wanted to speculate about whether or not it would be possible to mine the data from Nest and combine it with our Google Search results to identify any correlations between the conditions in our home and our health and well-being.
The data these companies and products are collecting has tremendous potential if harnessed in the right way. What could Google, who already has so much insight on our everyday interactions, do with an additional physical data source like Nest? Nest has two products, a learning thermostat and a smoke/carbon monoxide detector. Both destined to be all our homes in the not so distant future. These devices suddenly become very intelligent phycial sources of data, they know about movement, temperature, LUX levels, behaviour patterns and much more. If you were to combine this with the search history of homes in the same area the results could become very interesting. Ever looked at Google Trends? Publicly available, Google Trends allows you to see what people are searching for over time by country and region. This is a free tool and is often used by analysts to spot industry trends. If this tool is free then one can only begin to imagine the additional data-mining power available behind the scenes!
Did you know that 80 percent of Internet Users have searched for health related issues online?
Expanding on this notion lets add some additional thoughts:
Nest is capturing data on the temperature of our homes and it knows our IP address.
Some believe that having your central heating too high is thought to trigger allergies, asthma and other medical conditions.
People turn to Google to find out about new allergies or health conditions and Google knows your IP address.
If we were able to combine these sources of data and scale across cities and continents then it could be possible to surface trends. From this data could we determine whether people who over heat their homes simultaneously impact there health?
We’ve all heard the story of Target supermarket in the US predicting a teen girl’s pregnancy before her family were even aware. Between 2002 and 2010 Target’s revenue grew from $44 billion to $67 billion, and much of that was attributed to a heightened focus data. If a supermarket can predict pregnancy and even home-in on a due date by studying our shopping trends, the potential for a partnership like Google and Nest is enormous.
British Gas with their Hive app, which promises to save customers up to £150 a year on their heating bills, and now even Staples with their home automation offering Staples Connect are getting into the internet of things market. Who will be first to harness and surface that Big Data and feed it back to us to help us with our health as well as our bills?
There are already many examples of how big data has been harnessed in the social media world. Facebook was slow to exploit it's real revenue stream from advertising because it couldn’t segment the data and users well enough. Once cracked, it was worth a fortune - the marketeers dream. Twitter, whilst I’m sure wasn’t designed with this in mind, has been used to monitor HIV Outbreaks. Through mining the big data they were able to surface trending topics by specific regions. It clear people are already engaging with these platforms as a way to highlight and research their health problems. All that’s missing is an organisation that can join the dots together to combine the existing data sources with the new connected hardware with the goal to surface health trends as they appear.
Looking forward to seeing how Nest landscape develops now Google are involved.