Nest, a division of Google that sells home automation products, is exploring new products to help seniors live independently for as long as possible.
Several people familiar tell CNBC that the company has been approaching senior living facilities and experts in the aging space with a pitch about incorporating Nest's devices.
The company has floated a few ideas about how it could tweak its products for older Americans. One idea involves using its motion sensors to help people get to the bathroom in the middle of the night by automatically turning on lights, or notifying those who move around a lot in excessive heat that they might be at risk for dehydration.
Another area of exploration involves predicting potentially life-threatening falls. It's an ambitious long-term play, but companies with sensors in the home could potentially track changes in movement and other telltale signals before a fall.
The ideas are only in the discussion stage, and may not find their way into shipping products.
More than one million Americans live in assisted-living facilities today, a number that is expected to double by 2030 as the Baby Boomer generation ages. This demographic also has money to spend, which is why tech companies are looking at the space. CNBC has previously reported that Amazon is also considering technologies for "aging in place," which gives older Americans an opportunity to remain at home.
Nest products can already be useful in elder care, for instance by letting family members check in on loved ones through its camera products or letting only specific people into the home through its smart locks (like Meals on Wheels providers or caregivers). Nest's talks with aging experts have been ramping up in recent months, say several sources familiar with the conversations.
Grant Wedner is one of the lead people who has been spearheading efforts in this area, two people said. Before joining Google, Wedner was a senior director at design consulting firm IDEO where he led partnerships for its health portfolio and spent time looking at end-of-life experiences. He’s also on the board of several healthcare companies, according to his LinkedIn.
He lists his role at Google, which started in October 2017, simply as “something interesting.”
The upcoming conference schedule of Nest’s chief technology officer, Yoky Matsuoka, also hints at the company’s ambitions: She’s a featured speaker at the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care’s fall conference, talking about how technology can impact the future of aging.
Spokespeople for Nest declined to comment and Wedner couldn't be immediately be reached for comment.