Nest has finally opened its famously closed software for integrating its IP-enabled learning thermostat with third-party home automation systems. Control4, the first and (currently) only partner, is showing Nest integrated with lights, thermostats, motorized shades and other smart devices at CEDIA Expo 2013 this week in Denver.
Nest CEO Tony Fadell made the announcement during his keynote address at the Expo.
“Tony reached out to us,” says Eric Anderson, senior VP Products at Control4. “We were sort of flattered that they would come to us first.”
He says custom electronics pros “get so many requests from people who want to integrate the Nest thermostat with other things in the house.”
“We’ve been incredibly focused with the company growing at a rapid rate,” says Nest senior product manager Greg Hu in an interview with Electronic House sister publication CE Pro. “The group focused on delivering the best user experience.”
Also, Nest is working hard to put together a solid developer program, which will be launched in Q1 2014.
In the meantime, at nest.com/developer, the company is “asking developers to tell us what they’re interested in doing,” says Hu. “We want to be very, very thoughtful.”
He does say that the API is “incredibly flexible for developers,” and expects it to be deployed for a variety of products and services for everything from pricey home automation systems to simple DIY apps such as ifttt.
Integration is via Nest’s cloud service, which pushes the thermostat states to (in this case) Control4’s cloud and ultimately to the home’s control system. The learning features of Nest are not incorporated into the driver, and in the event of conflict between Control4 and Nest … the thermostat wins.
“Technically it’s not an API in the purest sense,” says Anderson. “They expose fan, heat, cool, etc., and we use that data.”
You can’t schedule the thermostats through Control4: “If I start externally mucking with their [Nest’s] schedule, there’s no telling what I would do to their own heuristic schedule,” Anderson says of their algorithms Nest builds around user behavior.
If a consumer must have the Nest thermostat, they will be able to integrate with Control4, but the richest experience is reserved for Control4’s own thermostats.
For instance, in Control4 if you change the temperature, the system asks if you want to revert to the usual setting in two hours or some other time period. The feature is built into the firmware of the thermostat. No can do with Nest.
“Technically you could do it in code, but it’s relatively cumbersome,” Anderson says.
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Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.