People in the world of gadgetry may know Tony Fadell as the brilliant designer of the iPod hardware. This 42-year old technologist also led the iPhone and iPod division prior to resigning from his VP position. After his resignation, there were assumptions on what his next step will be. Thermostat. Even his wife didn’t see that coming.
Reason Behind the Concept
According to Mr. Fadell, currently, there is a significant amount of carbon released into the air, and people are wasting billions of dollars on energy costs, all because of the fact that an automatic and simple way to control temperature is not available. With years of skills and expertise acquired from working in Silicon Valley, he came up with a thermostat that was not only an energy-saver, but it was also brilliant and charming that saving the world while saving energy couldn’t be any more exciting.
Working with the best team from Silicon Valley, from engineers and designers to computer scientists, Mr. Fadell founded a company—Nest Labs—to revolutionize a long neglected, yet extremely vital technology, thermostats.
It didn’t take Mr. Fadell long to get investors excited. Included in the list of investors backing his Silicon Valley startup are venture capitalists Google Ventures, Shasta Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Lightspeed Ventures, Intertrust and the company backed by Al Gore, Generation Investment Management.
It was the culmination when Nest Labs introduced the Nest Learning Thermostat, the first learning thermostat. The product is available for preorder at Nest.com and Best Buy and shipments are scheduled in November.
iPod of Thermostats
Nest aims to revolutionize every aspect of the device, in such a way that it will make other thermostat units look like an antiquated tape machine beside an iPod. With brushed metal ring of stainless steel and chassis of reflective polymer, Nest reflects any color and blends into any wall. Crisp color digital display is far from the displays of current high-end programmable thermostats, which were reminiscent of the DOS era.
Both an architectural piece and an electronic gadget, Nest Learning Thermostat is beautiful as much as it is functional. Sensors and moving parts, along with a wide range of technological elements are integrated in one small, intuitive package. Its intuitive way of interaction is evident in the way it lights up, when someone comes close to it. With just a push on the display, it will show the menu. Adjusting the temperature is as easy as turning a ring, and after which, it will show the amount of time it will take to achieve the set temperature. When heating, the display turns red, and when cooling, it turns blue.
It is equipped with artificial intelligence and energy saving features, such as Auto-Away and Energy History. With Auto-Away and motion-tracking sensors, it turns the cooling and heating down when no one is home, saving energy in the process. Energy History lets owners know the amount of energy used daily. The device connects to Wi-Fi, and owners can access their Nest online and control temperatures in real time from a smart phone, laptop or tablet. Software updates will be automatic with the Wi-Fi connection.
Equipped with the technology that enables iPod to play music for 24 hours, the Nest enables remote control using the internet even while the device on the wall is asleep and not using external power.
How It Saves on Energy Cost
Homes in the United States, including transportation, are what constitute roughly 10 percent of the total energy consumption of the country. Half of the 10 percent goes to heating and cooling and the rest goes to lighting, heating water, appliances, computers and other electronic devices.
According to experts, homes are achieving 5 percent savings in energy every time a house is kept a degree cooler in the winter and a degree warmer in summer. By changing consumption patterns, such as an average of four degrees, homeowners can easily save 20 percent on energy cost. Less heating and cooling mean lower energy bills and lesser carbon emissions.
Despite the cost of the device, selling on retail at $249, Mr. Fadell asserts that the device will pay for itself after a year in energy savings. Unlike traditional thermostats which are surprisingly inaccurate when it comes to measuring temperature, and are usually off by four or more degrees, Nest is dead-on. It uses multiple sensors to exploit the Microelectromechanical systems technology or MEMS to measure the temperature inside and outside the device. With the same sophisticated algorithm used in the noise-cancelling microphone of iPhone, the device is able to give an accurate reading of the room by discounting the slight heat generated by the device itself.
The artificial intelligence feature of the device contributes to the efficiency of the thermostat. Initially, users will have to set the thermostat three or four times a day, depending on the user’s schedule. The thermostat will then use the daily settings to establish a pattern and regulate temperature based on the pattern.
Nest provides owners with feedback on their energy consumption, and as an incentive to save, it awards owners with a virtual leaf each time they set their thermostat at an energy-saving level.
Nest Labs Future
According to the founder, Nest Labs may offer additional services in the future. Investors of Nest will be excited to know that the company has plans of venturing past thermostats and exploiting other green opportunities in exquisite ways only an elite team of tech geniuses from Silicon Valley can.
Kimberly is a researcher, writer, business woman, and contributor at entrepreneurweek.com blog network. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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