How Nest uses Big Data in practice
A huge amount of energy is wasted through inefficient home heating systems. Nest’s smart thermostat combats this by “learning” the most efficient way to keep your home comfortable, by monitoring your everyday activity and teaching itself to suit you.
Every time you set the temperature, the thermostat records your action and the time. It also uses motion sensors to record when you’re at home and when you’re out. Gradually, it begins to understand your patterns and plans the best routine for your home heating system. It is also able to dynamically adjust the temperature to keep it at a comfortable level, based on its understanding of what you’re doing.
Differences in the time it takes individual heating systems to heat a home to a required temperature are also taken into account, and the thermostat can integrate with any existing heating system. For example, if it knows you regularly leave the home at 9 a.m. and your heating system keeps the home warm for an hour later, it can learn to switch it off at 8 a.m.
In 2015, three studies found that Nest thermostats cut heating costs by 10–12%, and cooling costs (in homes with air conditioning) by around 15%.
The technical details
The Nest thermostat gathers information, such as location data, from the user at setup. Thereafter, sensors in the thermostat collect data on temperature, humidity, light levels, and motion – so it can tell whether anyone is home and which rooms are in use. It also collects data whenever the user adjusts the temperature.
Nest’s devices are built around the company’s proprietary operating system, which is derived from open-source OS Linux as well as a number of other open-source technologies.
Ideas and insights you can steal
Smart products are increasingly becoming a feature in our homes. What this case study clearly demonstrates is the need for all kinds of products, services and systems to become more thoughtful and better understand and react to users’ habits.
You can read more about how Nest is using Big Data to drive success in Big Data in Practice: How 45 Successful Companies Used Big Data Analytics to Deliver Extraordinary Results.
Bernard Marr is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and advisor to companies and governments. He has worked with and advised many of the world's best-known organisations. LinkedIn has recently ranked Bernard as one of the top 10 Business Influencers in the world (in fact, No 5 - just behind Bill Gates and Richard Branson). He writes on the topics of intelligent business performance for various publications including Forbes, HuffPost, and LinkedIn Pulse. His blogs and SlideShare presentation have millions of readers.