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Nest opens up its smart home technology to other companies

Weave lets third-party devices get the same smarts as Nest's own products

In the still nascent world of smart home technology, Nest is already one of the dominant names. Today, it's growing that position even stronger, as it is expanding its Works with Nest program with Nest Weave, which gives third-party hardware makers access to many of the technologies previously reserved for Nest's own products. Specifically, Weave is a protocol that lets products communicate with each other without a Wi-Fi network or internet connection.

Nest says that Weave offers low latency, longer ranges, better security, and less power consumption than Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, all of which are important criteria when talking about devices that are scattered throughout your home. Weave products can form what's called a mesh network and relay data to each other, making it possible to control devices that fall outside of the reach of a typical Wi-Fi network. Sixteen companies have already signed on to make products that use Weave, including popular brands such as Philips Hue. The first non-Nest product that supports the system will be a smart door lock from Yale, which can be operated with a passcode or mobile app. It will be available next year.

Weave devices can be controlled with the Nest app

Products that use Nest Weave are set up with Nest's existing smartphone apps for iOS and Android and show up as additional products next to Nest's own devices within the app. Devices can also interact with other Nest Weave products and read states such as home or away and smoke and carbon monoxide detection.

For example, Yale's Linus lock can warn someone if a Nest Protect has detected smoke inside the house before they even open the door. Google's OnHub router will also support Weave, providing a central hub for devices to relay communications. Nest says that for devices to show up in the Nest app and take advantage of Nest features, an existing Nest product, such as a thermostat or smoke detector, will also need to be installed in the home. The devices, including Yale's lock, are capable of working independently of the Nest system, however they will do so without the smart features provided by Nest (as in, the Linus will be a nice door lock with a passcode, but not much more).

In addition to Weave, Nest is also opening up APIs for third-party developers to access data from the Nest Cam. Nest's own products have had this capability for some time, but now something like a Philips Hue light bulb can turn on when motion is detected by the Nest Cam. Nest is also launching a Works with Nest webstore, which showcases all of the products that support the Nest platform.

Weave expands Nest as a platform for your whole home

Building a smart home that doesn't consist of a mess of incompatible systems and devices that don't talk to each other can be a really difficult thing. A number of companies, such as Wink, have tried to act as the bridge that gets everything in sync and makes it simple to control. (Even Nest's products work with Wink's hub system.) Nest notes that more than 11,000 developers have already built devices that work with its existing APIs, and one in eight homes with a Nest device also use a Works with Nest integration. But with Weave, Nest is leveraging its established name and extending some of the technologies it developed for its own products out to other companies, making it more of a smart home platform than ever. Whether or not that makes putting together a complete smart home less of a headache remains to be seen, but it will be interesting to watch it develop over the next year.