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30 May 2014

Google Enter Home Security

Google are entering the home security market, in an effort to broaden its presence beyond the virtual world and into the modern household. Having already acquired hardware security firm Nest Labs, Google has recently expressed an interest in cloud-based video monitoring service Dropcam. Web-connected household appliances are a growing market throughout the western world, and Google could be among the first to connect such devices with an online monitoring hub.

Earlier this year Google purchased Nest Labs, the maker of high-tech thermostats and smoke detectors, for $3.2 billion. This was Google's second biggest deal ever, after the $12.5 billion acquisition of mobile phone manufacturer Motorola. While the world of home security does seem a long way from Google's Internet and mobile concerns, it does provide the company with firm footing in the growing market for web-connected household appliances.

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to objects or devices that can be uniquely identified and controlled through radio frequency identification. According to a report by Progressive Policy, IoT is expected to contribute $600 billion to $1.3 trillion to the U.S. economy by 2025. Despite this huge potential, however, none of the existing tech giants has developed an integrated system that combines appliances together with a home security network.

More light was shed on Google's plans in recent weeks, with the company announcing an interest in cloud-based video monitoring service Dropcam. With hardware innovation by Nest Labs and software integration by Dropcam, Google could be the first company to attempt an ecosystem of Internet-enabled domestic devices combined with streaming video technology.

Dropcam allows users to monitor their homes through Wi-Fi enabled cameras, offering two-way audio functions and cloud-based recording and storage along with remote monitoring. Dropcam also make 'Tabs', a small wireless motion sensor that can be put on doors, windows and valuables as a way to secure possessions and areas. When combined with the next generation of Internet-enabled home gadgets, it is easy to see why Dropcam would be such an attractive acquisition for Google.

By purchasing already established and successful companies, Google can leverage their technical prowess and manpower to speed up the development process. Time is of the essence when developing the next generation of Internet-enabled home gadgets, especially when you're in competition with Apple. According to a report by the Financial Times, Apple are also planning a platform that would allow iOS devices to control smart home appliances, performing functions like controlling lights and accessing security systems.

The race to control the modern home is well and truly under way, as the frontier of virtual space spreads its tentacles into the real world. If the past few years of mobile development are anything to go by, we are likely to see similar systems developed by Google and Apple over the next decade, albeit with vastly different philosophies. While this new frontier is still in the early stages of development, recent moves by Google suggest future integration of smart home devices and cloud-based security networks.