Nest website | Stock: Owned by Google (GOOG)

"We’re Nest. We reinvent things. We take the unloved products in your home and make simple, beautiful, thoughtful things."

That quote, from Nest's "about" page on its website, sums things up quite nicely. And since its inception in 2010, Nest quickly got to work inventing very nice things, indeed — and has been handsomely rewarded. The company took shape when former Apple engineers Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers — just a couple men largely responsible for a little product called iPod — left to form their own business, Nest. Fast forward a year, and we get the first product.

The Nest Thermostat

And it's not too much of a stretch to say that the Nest Thermostat is to home heating and cooling what the iPod was to, say, the Walkman. OK, apples and oranges, perhaps, but the metaphor isn't that far off. Nobody had ever considered that a home thermostat could look good. That it could learn your habits and preferences. That it could be aware of when you're home and when you're away. And what the weather's like outside. And that multiple in-home thermostats could talk to each other — all in the name of keeping you more comfortable while actually saving you money in the long run. (And that's important, as at $249 each, the Nest Thermostat is not an inexpensive product.)

The Nest Protect

In October 2013, Nest rolled out its second product — Nest Protect, a $129 combination smoke/carbon monoxide detector. Another product that shirks traditional design, Nest Protect's goal is simple — alert you before there's serious danger, do it in a way that's not scary, and that ultimately makes it more safe. Nest Protect does that by gently alerting you — either inside the home or via the mobile app — of potential trouble. If it's a false alarm, you can literally wave it away with your hand — no more having to find a stool or ladder and hitting a reset button. Nest Protect also incorporates subtle lighting to help guide you in the dark.

The Google acquisition

Clearly, someone noticed. In January 2014, Google announce its intention to purchase Nest Labs for $3.2 billion. The acquisition was quickly approved, and it's believed that Nest will become Google's core internal hardware team.