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Google builds a ‘Nest’ for future of smart homes

Nest Labs’ smoke and carbon monoxide detectors could help Google build an electronic hub for homes.
Nest Labs’ smoke and carbon monoxide detectors could help Google build an electronic hub for homes.Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

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SAN FRANCISCO — When our Internet-connected gadgets and home appliances all learn to talk to each other, Google wants to be at the center of the conversation.

This imagined future is still a few years away, but Google is already preparing with its $3.2 billion acquisition of high-tech thermostat and smoke-detector maker Nest Labs.

The surprise deal announced earlier this week will provide Google Inc. with more tools to build a valuable hub for homes. It’s a world of network-tethered toasters and tea kettles, or a so-called ‘‘Internet of Things,’’ that is destined to reshape society, experts say, in the same way that smartphones have done in the seven years since Apple Inc. unveiled the iPhone.

The research firm Gartner Inc. expects more than 26 billion objects to be connected to the Internet by 2020, a figure that does not include personal computers, smartphones or tablets. That would be a nearly 30-fold increase from roughly 900 million Internet-connected things in 2009.

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