The iPod’s Inventor Strikes Out On His Own, And Invents---A Thermostat?! “ONLY 6% OF PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTATS ARE ACTUALLY PROGRAMMED. THAT’S A MASSIVE DESIGN PROBLEM.” --Tony Fadell
“Laughter, love, and caring: a happy home these things make--oh, and a technologically advanced energy efficient thermostat…that, too.” --Tony Fadell With its pedigree allure, the product was created by Apple alums Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers, unusual premise and compelling design, Nest gained a healthy amount of media. Palo Alto based company, the Nest product plays up the charming happenstance of houses taking on rather lifelike appearances in its first-ever spot for the "learning thermostat” market.
The Nest Thermostat is sleek, intuitive, and more necessary than most homeowners think. Just like a certain hot commodity, for instance the MP3 player was once upon a time. Tony Fadell help invent the iPod. Well, he did not do it single handedly, but the former Apple executive conceived the idea, got Apple execs on board, then went on to guide the development of eighteen generations of the company’s signature pre-iPhone products. In 2008, he left Apple and several years later started a startup called Nest Labs, which was revealed this year to be in the housing thermostat business.
But not just any thermostat, the iPod version of thermostats; a device so desirable and functional that it will turn home energy management into an easy symbol of sustainable living. Fadell intends the Nest Learning Thermostat to be a focal piece on homeowners walls, most individuals try to hide their thermostat. But with the Nest thermostat, the design being sleek and sexy, homeowners will cherish it, and people will be proud to show them off during gatherings.
The Nest thermostat actually is iPod like in design: The display and primary interaction are instantly intuitive and physically irresistible. To adjust the temperature, turn a ring on the rim of the device; for example, if you’re making it cooler, the display turns blue, and if you’re making it warmer, it turns red. The temperature itself is displayed in a clear, bright numeric readout, no more squinting at tick marks on a dusty dial. There is also a little green leaf that appears on the screen to guide users regarding tweaking your settings for optimal energy savings. And Fadell, no stranger to the importance of a good "unboxing" experience, even went so far as to include a high-quality, custom branded screwdriver with every unit.
"When you take it out of the box you want it to be easy to install," Fadell says. "Apple taught me not to cut corners, and that you don’t give up on user experience, ever."
As Fadell notes, the thermostat business was ripe for innovation, and a tantalizing business opportunity as well. He stumbled upon it when he was building his own dream home, an experiment in cutting edge green design in Lake Tahoe. As Fadell considered spending tens of thousands of dollars on a heating and cooling system, it just seemed wrong to link all that tech up to a $90 thermostat from Home Depot that barely worked as advertised, simply because its design was lacking ingenuity. Fadell waited for a better product to come along, but it didn’t.
Upon investigating the thermostat market further, Fadell discovered that 10 million thermostats are sold every year. Meanwhile, only 6% of programmable thermostats are actually programmed, even though a programmed thermostat can save 30-40% in heating and cooling costs. That’s was clearly a serious design flaw.
So for users, the best thing about the Nest Learning Thermostat is its mechanics under that gleaming case. It’s equipped with software that analyzes and tracks your usage patterns over time, so that you only have to twist that dial a dozen times before the thermostat can simply anticipate your climate-control needs and take care of it automatically.
"Instead of programming their thermostats, most people have given up and treat it like a light switch," Fadell says. "But you have to make those manual adjustments about 1,500 times a year if you want to see any real energy savings." Fadell’s version elegantly lets you set it and forget it, at least after that initial learning period. But this thermostat is so attractive, you probably won’t mind.