Tony Fadell, often hailed as the ‘godfather of the iPod,’ has a new tech gadget in the works: the Learning Thermostat. And although it exhibits all the technological gusto and aesthetic appeal as any current Apple device, the gadget itself seems an unlikely choice for the former chief of the iPod division.
After all, thermostats aren’t exactly considered sexy in tech circles.
But perhaps Fadell’s new company, Nest, will change all that, and revolutionize household climate control in the process.
The Nest Learning Thermostat is a sleekly designed ‘smart’ thermostat that learns from user behavior. After installation, the Learning Thermostat goes into an intense learning mode for about a week, gathering information on household patterns, and learning from user input. For instance, if you turn down the heat at 10PM every evening, the Nest thermostat will register this and starting turning down at 10PM automatically.
But the device is also acutely aware of its environment and reacts to changes within the household. For instance, it senses when room lights are on, when the sunlight is particularly strong, and when people leave the home. It collects all this information and properly calibrates the house’s temperature in relation to its environment and household patterns. It is also able to project patterns into the future so that it can make proper adjustments without constant user input.
After the initial ‘learning curve’ the device will know your energy consumption patterns, and then make recommendations to help you better conserve your energy. However, it will still continue to learn from user input throughout its lifespan.
Furthermore, it’s Wi-Fi connection allows it to interact with your iPhone, your computer, or other smart meters or appliances. Adjustments to the Learning Thermostat can be made remotely from your mobile device.
As far as design goes, Nest’s Learning Thermostat is at the top of its class – the user interface clearly draws a lot of influence from Apple. The thermostat features a round circle dial and a single button in the middle that controls the entire interface. In response to questions about Nest’s design of the Learning Thermostat, Fadell stated: “it needed to be a coveted, cherished object that sits on your wall.”
And the Nest Learning Thermostat is definitely something homeowners would be inclined to show off.
But with a hefty price tag of $249, will this innovative new thermostat do well in the marketplace? After all, you can pick up a regular thermostat for less than $100. Does the Learning Thermostat boast enough features to convince homeowners to doll out the extra dough?
Fadell claims the new device could save homeowners about 20 – 30% off their energy bills. And when you consider that approximately 50% of a home’s energy bill comes from heating and cooling, this could amount to fairly large savings over the span of a few years. Of course, the 20 – 30% energy saving is still yet to be proven in practice.
Do you think the Nest Learning Thermostat will accomplish its projected energy savings for homeowners? Do you think a thermostat with all these features is worth $249?
Image: Nest, Learning Thermostat