Home automation and smart homes have been talked about for years. X10 has many different gadgets you could incorporate to control your lights and other devices. The Nest Thermostat is a fairly new piece of technology where it learns your habits. It programs itself to raise and drop the temperature depending if you are home or away. They also have a smartphone app and allow the ability to control remotely from a computer. The goal of smart homes is to save energy and run more efficiently driving down costs.
Nest has another product coming out just around the corner. Nest Protect which is a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm. This smart device tells you what it is has detected. You can wave your hand below it to silence it for situations where you burnt your toast. If it detects carbon monoxide, it talks to Nest Thermostat to automatically turn off your gas furnace.
Starting in 2014, they will be launching the Nest Developer Program allowing programmers/developers to connect using their Web API to interface their own products, apps, or services. The goal is to tie into other home products such as lighting and appliances.