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谷歌(Google)的智能家居(smart home)

作者:bet体育赛事 时间:2021-03-01 13:44
本文摘要:To understand why Google has just paid $3.2bn for a company that makes thermostats and smoke detectors, you need to look at some of its earlier attempts to invent the “smart home”.要摸明白谷歌(Google)为何刚耗资32亿美元并购了一家生产自动恒温器和烟雾报警器的公司,你有适当实地考察一下它早些


To understand why Google has just paid $3.2bn for a company that makes thermostats and smoke detectors, you need to look at some of its earlier attempts to invent the “smart home”.要摸明白谷歌(Google)为何刚耗资32亿美元并购了一家生产自动恒温器和烟雾报警器的公司,你有适当实地考察一下它早些时候在发明者“智能家居”(smart home)方面所做到的一些希望。These were more than simply object lessons in what not to do. Past efforts, though resulting in failure, highlight the range of Google’s capabilities – and why, following this week’s acquisition of Nest Labs, it looks to have taken a formidable lead in a tech market that has barely been invented yet.那些希望某种程度是一些指出什么不应做到的实例教训。尽管谷歌过去的希望未予顺利,但它们却凸显两点。第一点是谷歌的能力范围。

第二点是为什么在上周并购了Nest实验室(Nest Labs)之后,谷歌或许已在一个目前为止完全还并未被建构出来的科技市场获得了无法动摇的领先地位。Google’s first attempt, five years ago, took the form of an internet service called PowerMeter. This was an online service for monitoring home energy use. It turned out that most people had better things to do than track their energy consumption on a website.五年前,谷歌的第一次希望展现出为一个取名为PowerMeter的互联网服务。这是一个监控家里能源用于情况的在线服务。

不过事实证明,大多数人还有更加最重要的事情要做到,没工夫在网上追踪家里的能源消耗情况。Next came a software platform known as Android@Home, which was aimed at other manufacturers that want to build the “smarts” into internet-connected objects for the home. The first of these products was meant to be an LED lightbulb that could be turned on using a smartphone app. The manufacturer abandoned the idea before it was launched.接着,谷歌发售了一个取名为Android@Home的软件平台。这个平台针对的,是其他想要在家居联网设备中映射“智能”的生产商。

首个此类产品原本会是一个能用智能手机应用于照亮的发光二极管(LED)灯泡。但生产商在发售这一产品前退出了该创新。An internet service and a software platform were fine ideas as far as they went. The missing ingredient was a truly useful piece of intelligent hardware. Or, to be precise, an appealing, easy-to-use consumer product that bundled a desirable set of capabilities with an intuitive interface: software, hardware and online service working in concert to make life around the home better.就其本身而言,互联网服务和软件平台都是不俗的创新。


缺陷的元素是确实简单的智能硬件——或者清楚地说道,是有吸引力而又更容易用于的消费产品。这种产品应当把一系列人们想的功能用直观的界面纸盒一起:软件、硬件和在线服务能协同工作,令其家居生活更加幸福。So who better to turn to than Tony Fadell, whose claims to fame include being lead inventor of the iPod and founder of Nest? Apple’s music player was the gadget that launched the modern consumer hardware revolution. Pleasing in itself, the iPod would have been nothing without the software and online store that brought the digital music business to life.那么,还有谁是比托尼法代尔(Tony Fadell)更加合适的统合人选呢?法代尔名气相当大,他既是iPod的首席发明家,又是Nest的创始人。iPod是苹果(Apple)的音乐播放器,正是这款小型电子产品打开了现代消费类硬件的革命。

不过,尽管iPod本身的样子很讨喜,但如果没让数字音乐业务绽放生机的软件和在线商店,它有可能什么都不是。Mr Fadell went on to embed his iPod lessons in Nest’s thermostat, right down to the wheel-like control for programming the unit. (Honeywell has fired off a legal challenge, claiming that the circular control unfairly copies one of its own inventions.)法代尔随后将他在iPod上获得的经验带入到Nest的自动恒温器中,就连后者的编程界面也延用了前者的那种环状控制器。(不过,霍尼韦尔(Honeywell)发动了一项法律诉讼,称之为这种环状控制器抄袭了该公司的一项发明者。)A Nest thermostat taps into online weather forecasts and information from its own sensors about a user’s movements to guess the best temperature to set.Nest的自动恒温器能利用在线天气预报和其自身传感器提供的用户移动信息,来推断不应原作的最佳温度。

This is where Google comes in. While it may take a product visionary such as Mr Fadell to come up with the idea, the device is nothing on its own. In an interview with the Financial Times, the Nest founder was forthright about what is involved: 80 per cent of the work behind his company’s products goes into building and running the infrastructure on which they depend.这正是中用谷歌的地方。尽管明确提出这一创新有可能必须像法代尔这样对产品有远见的人,但这种设备依靠自身只不过充分发挥没法什么起到。在拒绝接受英国《金融时报》专访时,这位Nest创始人坦率地谈及了必须做到的工作:在该公司产品背后,80%的工作都是建设和运营其产品所倚赖的基础设施。

There are few better infrastructures to plug into than the one operated by Google. It is not just the scale of its data centres or the capacity of its broadband networks: the internet company could also be in a good position to turn data collected by Nest’s devices into valuable intelligence.就Nest产品所相连的基础设施而言,没哪一家比起谷歌运营的设施更佳。这某种程度是因为谷歌数据中心的规模或其宽带网络的能力,还因为这家互联网企业需要只能地将Nest设备搜集的数据转化成为极有价值的情报。In this it can bring two assets into play. One is Google’s own vast trove of data. Combining Nest’s data with information from its other services promises to give Google unrivalled insights into your preferences – not just the temperature you like to wake up to, but how long you linger over breakfast before heading to work and what route you take to get there.从这点来说,谷歌可盘活两大资产。


其一是该公司自己享有的海量数据库存。谷歌如果能将Nest的数据与自己旗下其他服务提供的数据融合一起,将未来将会对用户的偏爱构成尤为明了的了解——不仅能告诉你醒来时讨厌的室温,还能告诉你上班前会在早餐上沉醉于多长时间,以及你不会回头哪条路下班。The other important asset is the skills needed to make use of all this data, such as developing algorithms that will turn it into intelligence that can be used to inform useful services. If Google could anticipate when you were about to leave home in the morning, it could alert you to up-to-the-minute commuting conditions, and make sure your home was properly secured.另一个最重要资产是对以上所有数据加以利用所必须的技能,比如研发算法的技能——这种算法可把数据转化成为情报,通报给一些有实用价值的服务。如果谷歌能预判出有你早晨约什么时候离开了家,它就能向你提醒准确到分钟的通勤状况,并保证你的住宅获得适当维护。

Privacy fears are certain to raise their head. But a smart home that truly understands and can respond to your needs might overcome those concerns. And if Google tried to use data from around the home to serve up even more relevant adverts, it would be part and parcel of the tacit compromise its users have long accepted.当然,这一定会引起隐私方面的忧虑。不过,一个需要确实解读并号召你市场需求的智能家居系统,可能会让你把这种忧虑放到一旁。

即使谷歌企图利用从你家中获得的数据向你展出更加多涉及广告,也无法却是突破了其用户长期以来早已拒绝接受的一种心照不宣的让步。At least that is the theory. There is much to do to prove that it can work. Making smart household objects desirable will not be easy. Customers of Nest’s smoke alarms talk far less enthusiastically than those of its thermostats.最少从理论上说道是如此。

要证明这种方式需要奏效,还有很多事情要做到。生产人们讨厌的智能家居设备会是件更容易事。Nest烟雾报警器受到的欢迎就比自动恒温器较少得多。Google also has to show that it can make serious money as it moves deeper into hardware, where profit margins are lower. But if it can get all the parts of the smart home working together while also coming up with hit new gadgets, it may be hard to match.谷歌还必需证明,随着它更加了解地投身于硬件领域,它仍有能力赚相当可观利润,却是硬件领域的利润率要较低一些。