When our Internet-connected gadgets and home appliances all learn to talk to each other, Google wants to be at the center of the conversation.
This imagined future is still a few years away, but Google is already preparing with its $3.2 billion acquisition of high-tech thermostat and smoke-detector maker Nest Labs.
The surprise deal announced earlier this week will provide Google Inc. with more tools to build a valuable hub for homes. It's a world of network-tethered toasters and tea kettles, or a so-called "Internet of Things," that is destined to reshape society, experts say, in the same way that smartphones have done in the seven years since Apple Inc. unveiled the iPhone.
Google also could plug its digital mapping software into Nest products so it could learn the layout of a home, said Brian Proffitt, a technology analyst who is also a management instructor at the University of Notre Dame. That knowledge could then be deployed to delegate such household chores as vacuuming to a robot that would be able to rely on the interior maps to navigate its way through an entire home without human help, Proffitt said.