Fully Charged: Google buys Nest, SimCity goes offline and Game of Thrones is back!

The tastiest tech stories dressed up for your delectation

Google buys smart thermostat maker Nest

Nest, maker of internet-connected home appliances like the Nest Protect smoke alarm and Nest Learning Thermostat, is to be bought by Google for US$3.2 billion in cash. Google’s Larry Page said, “We are excited to bring great experiences to more homes in more countries and fulfil their dreams!” (Yes, with an exclamation mark and everything.)

Nest co-founder Tony Fadell is one of the minds behind the iPod, and it could be that Google is buying the company for not just its products and technology but its talent for design.

And… possibly for the data its devices collect? The press release suggests that Google will keep Nest as a wholly-owned but separate company (similar to its relationship with Motorola), but we can’t help and wonder if the data used by Nest’s smart appliances will be shared with the search giant: in the future, will your motion sensor-equipped smoke alarm be spying on you?

UPDATE: On his blog, Nest's VP of Engineering Matt Rogers quashed fears about how personal data will be used: "Our privacy policy clearly limits the use of customer information to providing and improving Nest’s products and services. We’ve always taken privacy seriously and this will not change."

Nest's CEO Tony Fadell goes into detail about the reasoning behind the sale: "Google will help us fully realize our vision of the conscious home and allow us to change the world faster than we ever could if we continued to go it alone. We’ve had great momentum, but this is a rocket ship."

[Source: Google.com]

SimCity Offline is coming

Now, this is puzzling. EA Maxis has just announced that SimCity – a game that previously required players to be connected to the internet – will soon be available to play offline.

Update 10 of the urban planning game will enable Offline for all players. Fine. What’s interesting is that EA Maxis has said time and time again that SimCity’s always online nature – which resulted in disastrous teething problems at launch as server issues prevented people from playing – was a key component of the game and that “the power of the cloud” was necessary to run its complex simulations. Gamers were dubious about such claims – and this announcement seems to suggest they were right to be.

That said, Offline play is likely to be welcomed by anyone who owns the game (available on Windows and Mac) and has experienced internet-related troubles with it in the past. Update 10’s availability is currently TBC.

[Source: SimCity.com]

More after the break...

China to build life-sized Titanic replica with ‘sinking simulator’

Here’s a theme park with a difference: a museum in China is to feature a life-sized replica of the Titanic that will give visitors a taste of how it felt to be on the ship when it went down in 1912, claiming 1500 lives.

Several hundred people at a time will be able to experience the sinking simulation, and the company funding the project claims it’ll be frighteningly realistic. Seven Star Energy Investment Group chief executive Su Shaojun said, “When the ship hits the iceberg, it will shake, it will tumble. We will let people experience water coming in by using sound and light effects… They will think ‘The water will drown me. I must escape with my life.’”

Sounds a little more interesting – and a little more tasteless, perhaps – than Disney’s Haunted Mansion. The park will open in 2016.

[Souce: The Guardian]

Game of Thrones teases with season four trailer

Just in case you missed it: there’s a new season of HBO’s Game of Thrones starting in April, and the company just released the first proper trailer. Dragons, wildlings, dwarfs, golden hands, even a major new character – it’s certainly got our mouths watering. Wake us up in April, would you?