The Connected Home Is No Longer a Business-to-Geek Market

A Q&A with François Girodolle

As Head of European Product Partnerships at Nest, François Girodolle will speak at Smart Home Summit happening September 29/30, 2015. Here he shares with us his views of the smart home industry and Nest's mission to create a more thoughtful home.

In your opinion what have been the most interesting developments in the Smart Home industry during the last 12 months?

"The concept of the "connected home" has evolved, both from an industry and consumer viewpoint, as companies develop more thoughtful technologies. These are products that offer more than a simple remote control on a person's phone, but do more for us than we do for it, working quietly in the background and learning the preferences of users to offer personalized benefits."

"Over the last 12 months, we've launched the second generation of the Nest Protect and introduced the Nest Cam that have revolutionized the way people interact with these previously unloved products, and we've also continued to work with developers across the world to create even more meaningful interactions between the technology in our homes."

"As more and more businesses work towards developing this thoughtful technology, we're starting to realize the potential of the thoughtful home and gain mass consumer awareness and uptake. The connected home is no longer a business-to-geek market."

Could you give us some detail about the connected products Nest is offering?

"Nest's mission is to create a more 'thoughtful' home by reinventing unloved products like the thermostat and smoke alarm. Today Nest offers three products: The Nest Cam is designed to watch out for your home and family - even when you can't. Nest Cam gives people peace of mind and the ability to stay connected to the things they care about."

"Nest's Learning Thermostat gives you precise control of the temperature, creates a personalized schedule for your home and eliminates the need for a programmer. So you can save energy. Simply."

"Nest Protect smoke and CO alarm is an industrial-grade smoke sensor that tests itself automatically and lasts up to a decade. It's also the first home alarm you can silence from your phone without any extra hardware required."

"All three products work perfectly on their own and can be controlled from the Nest app, and when working together deliver a variety of additional thoughtful features. For example, when Nest Protect detects a Carbon Monoxide emergency, it will trigger the Nest Learning Thermostat to switch off the boiler as this can be a key source of carbon monoxide."

How do you feel your Smart Home solutions have improved your customers' experiences?

"Up to 40% of people in the UK don't have a thermostat installed in their home, despite the fact that heating contributes 60% of our annual energy bills. The Nest Learning Thermostat reinvents a previously unloved and ignored product."

"Thoughtful features such as auto-away, a feature that detects when the house is empty and switches off the heating; and auto-schedule, which creates a personalized heating schedule, help consumers save energy whilst staying comfortable."

"Smart products can also offer peace of mind. Nest Cam allows you to keep an eye on the things you love when you are away, whether your car or your pet, and Nest Protect lets you know everything is ok when you are away from home."

"We're also now seeing these products talk to each other, creating new interactions and features, which provide even more features that help consumers save energy, stay safe, and feel secure."

How important do you think partnerships are in driving the success of Smart Home services?

"No company can create every product and consumers demand choice when creating their own version of the thoughtful home. At Nest, our open API has enabled us to work with more than 9,000 developers across the world to help bring the thoughtful home to life."

"The Works With Nest programme makes it possible for your Nest devices to interact securely and automatically with other thoughtful products both inside and outside of the home. And the family of products and developers we're working with is constantly growing."

"For example, Nest and Philips Hue enable you to leave home worry-free by turning the lights off as you leave and mimicking your presence when you are gone, by syncing your Hue lighting to your Nest Protect alarms."

"This type of partnership is imperative to help bring ideas and expertise together and help us realize the potential of the Thoughtful Home and bring it to life."

What will it take for Smart Home services to move from niche to mass market?

"Since Nest launched around four years ago we have seen the market grow at a fantastic rate and this is continuing to accelerate. Who would have thought you would be able to buy a thermostat in John Lewis, Best Buy or Darty for example? We've also seen traditional industries embrace this technology, for example Nest products are offered by some of the biggest energy and insurance companies in the world, and millions of customers can get our products at a lower price."

"We are continuing on this journey, however the focus should be on continuing to deliver fantastic point products that just happen to be connected and work together. People will not buy a smart home anytime soon - but they will buy a great smoke alarm, thermostat or wireless camera."

What future plans do you have for extending Smart Home services?

"We're constantly looking at products in the home and thinking of ways we can innovate and we're always updating our existing product software to ensure that users have the best possible experience with our products."

"In addition, we're constantly growing the list of developers we partner with on the Works With Nest programme, bringing new products and capabilities to the Nest and Works With Nest product portfolio."

Do you think Nest and other Smart Home players are doing as much as possible with the data collected from smart home services?

"Home is a safe haven, it's where we get to decide who we invite in. It's where private conversations stay private. People who invite smart home players into their homes are placing trust in those companies, and therefore it's important to respect that trust - ensuring the customer is control of their data and how it is used."

"If customers invite us in, we'll respect their privacy and be a good guest. We believe the best way to earn trust is to keep the consumer in control of their information and clearly communicate will be used if they choose to share it. For example, today we use aggregated data to improve our products, publish industry-changing insights, and of course help our customers know more."

What was the reason for your decision to speak at the Smart Home Summit, and what do you hope to gain from the event?

"As a platform for industry discussions to help develop a strategy and vision for the future of connected home technology, the Smart Home Summit will be a great opportunity for us to discuss our vision for the Thoughtful Home and how we could work with potential partners in the future to help realize and harness its potential."

About the Author
François Girodolle is the head of European product partnerships at Nest. He works closely with established brands including Whirlpool, Mercedes-Benz, and Philips Hue to create meaningful product integrations. Prior to Nest, François held senior product, marketing and business development roles at several major European tech players, as well as being an advisor to technology start-ups, and a judge and mentor in various globally-recognized innovation accelerators and competitions. François holds a Master's degree in Engineering from Supelec, and an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management (Sloan Fellows).

About Nest Labs
Nest's mission is to create a home that takes care of itself and the people inside it. The company focuses on simple, beautiful, and delightful hardware, software, and services. Nest products are sold in the U.S., U.K., Canada, France, Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands and are installed in more than 180 countries.

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