Smart-home poster child Nest has joined the maturing market for automated smart-tech products by offering "family accounts."
In other words, its systems will now be able to recognize and react to multiple people through different accounts.
While this may seem like an obvious move, a significant number of smart-home companies have had a hard time getting beyond a single account connected to their device.
Single accounts have been the default for ease and convenience, but when smart-tech started entering more complicated homes than one-person apartments, the limitations became obvious. So companies starting allowing for multiple people to log into a single account.
Now, however, with the ecosystem of smart locks, thermostats, lights, doorbells, cameras and so on all starting to work with one another, that one-account solution has become increasingly unsustainable, especially with the location-detection features that many products offer, which are often tied to an individual's mobile phone.
As just one example, the Zuli smartplugs – which we reviewed here – lost a significant amount of their usefulness since (at the time) it was only possible to connect them to a single account and a single phone.
In the dark
It literally meant that if you used its proximity detection so lights would turn on as you entered a room, then as soon as you left, the light would turn off, leaving whoever was still in the room in the dark. Zuli has since added multiple user accounts, and the product's usefulness has rocketed as a result.
There are numerous other advantages to having multiple accounts work with the same equipment. If a product needs to send an alert, it can now send it to multiple people's phones (such as a fire alert with Nest's smoke detector).
Smart cameras can turn on when everyone has left the house, not just the one person with an account. By having multiple accounts, the value of connecting a mobile phone to a system goes from slight to significant.
And of course, multiple accounts – done right – enable people to set up their own settings for different smart-home technologies. It starts living up to its hype.
Nest is not the first to offer multiple accounts (although most smart-home companies do not offer as many as its 10), but the company is seen as a beacon for the industry, so its move will help drive adoption of more advanced configurations and software setups.
In short, it is a positive sign that the smart-home market – which has been much hyped but has so far not taken off in any significant way – is starting to mature. ®