Google’s smart home vision

In September 2014, some Google employees filed for patents they called “Security Scoring in a Smart-Sensored Home.” For the first time, those patent requests are publicly available, and give some understanding behind what Google is planning to do with their Nest and Dropcam acquisitions.

A schematic diagram illustrating an intelligent, multi-sensing, network-connected wall plug, according to an embodiment. Credit: Matsuoka; Yoky; et al., via United States Patent Application.

According to the application, “This patent specification relates to apparatus, systems, methods, and related computer program products for providing home security objectives. More particularly, this patent specification relates to a plurality of devices, including intelligent, multi-sensing, network-connected devices, that communicate with each other and/or with a central server or a cloud-computing system to provide any of a variety of useful home security objectives.”

Although Google now owns Nest and Dropcam services, the patent also includes descriptions and photos of plans that Google has for new smart-home ideas — including things like smart doorbells, doorknobs, switches, and wall sockets

And although Google’s patent is mostly focused on smart security, it will have a big impact on the utility industry as well. Google’s smart home also includes “smart wall switches” and “smart wall plugs.”

“The smart wall switches and/or the smart wall plugs can function as an ‘occupancy emulator’ by learning the occupants’ patterns of turning on and off lights, appliances, etc. and mimicking those patterns when the occupants are away,” the application explained.

According to the application, the smart wall switches may detect different lighting conditions to dim certain lights, as well as detecting temperature and number of people in the room to change the speed of a ceiling fan or lights. But the technology will go even further — creating an algorithm to determine behavior and change power use accordingly.

“In one example, the artificial intelligence algorithms can be configured to sense whether there have been a threshold number of days over the past month for which, at roughly the same time of day (‘X o’clock’), the user has turned on or off the same or roughly the same set of smart wall switches and/or smart wall plugs to turn on or off the same or roughly the same lights and/or appliances in the home,” the application explained. “If such a pattern has been detected, the user can be sent a message on their smartphone allowing them to opt-in to a setting in which one or more the relevant smart wall switches and/or smart wall plugs will be automatically turned on or off so as to turn on or off the relevant lights and/or appliances at about X-o’clock.”

Many utilities and private companies are already implementing their smart home devices, but Google’s patent gives a look into their idea of the smart home of the future. And although security may be an important part of it, energy efficiency will also play a part in Google’s future.

For more:
– read the patent

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