Is their ability to generate massive transaction-generated data streams that will yield insights into human behavior. Packed with sensors and software that can, say, detect that the house is empty and turn down the heating, Nest’s connected thermostats generate plenty of data, which the firm captures. Tony Fadell, Nest’s boss, has often talked about how Nest is well-positioned to profit from “the internet of things”—a world in which all kinds of devices use a combination of software, sensors and wireless connectivity to talk to their owners and one another. Other big technology firms are also joining the battle to dominate the connected home. This month Samsung announced a new smart-home computing platform that will let people control washing machines, televisions and other devices it makes from a single app.