Former Apple, Google Engineers Develop Nest Learning Thermostat
October 25, 2011 12:04 PM
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Over time, Nest automatically learns about its homeowners through the homeowner's actions, and automatically makes temperature changes that suit the user's needs
Engineers from Google and Apple have stepped in to update a small gadget known to create large monthly energy bills:
Thermostats can be a pain. Some have old or complex interfaces that make it much too difficult to program, so homeowners must constantly tweak the heat or air conditioning for that right temperature. Even when a thermostat is programmed, MSNBC reports that the small box accounts for half of the power consumption of a home, leading to shocking
at the end of the month.
To address these issues, a team of engineers, many of which are from Google and Apple, have come together to create an updated thermostat: the Nest learning thermostat.
Nest consists of a circular screen and a dial-based interface that is clear and simple to navigate. It tells the homeowner what the current temperature of that zone is, and how long it will take to reach a desired temperature so that the user doesn't constantly tweak it in order to reach that temperature faster and end up overcompensating.
Nest also has two types of proximity sensors. One sensor activates the screen as you near it, which saves internal battery power when you're not directly in front of it. The other identifies your occasional presence in the room, which allows it to detect when you're at home or away. It will automatically adjust its settings when you're away to save energy. When a few degrees are adjusted for
, a glowing leaf appears.
What truly makes Nest unique is its ability to learn. Over time, Nest automatically learns about its homeowners through the homeowner's actions. For instance, if a homeowner has a fairly regular work pattern of leaving from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Nest will pick up on this pattern and adjust temperature settings accordingly. When heat or air conditioning settings are changed, Nest is paying attention to see what the user prefers. It only takes about one week for Nest to learn regular patterns and begins making these changes automatically for the homeowner.
Nest even has built-in Wi-Fi, which allow Android, iPhone or iPad users to control the thermostat from their mobile devices. Nest is capable of learning these actions as well, and will eventually start making the adjustments that the user makes from outside of the home.
Nest is currently available for pre-order at
, and will run you $250. While this seems like a pricey introductory cost, Nest engineers believe the device will pay for itself when you see a change in your energy bills.
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RE: More sensors needed - inside and out
10/25/2011 1:39:00 PM
I've always thought that a nice addition to a heating and cooling system would be a feature that would pump in warm or cool air from outside if the temp changed enough. For instance, if the high was 85 today and you were trying to keep it 72 in your house, it would be nice if at, say, 9:00 PM when the temp dipped below 70 that it would stop using the AC and simply pump in cool air from outside if it was still too warm in the house. Same in the winter if it was 30 degrees overnight but it climbed to 75 at noon then stop heating and pump in warm air from outside.
It would also be nice if it knew about seasons too. In the summer when it's 112F outside, nobody in their right mind would turn down a chance to get the temp down to 60F in their house, so if for some reason (say a storm or something) the temp drops that low at night, by all means, pump that air in. But in the winter, don't let it get that cold. Similarly, in the winter, I wouldn't mind it getting up to 80 in my house if I'm used to trying to stay warm when it's only 30 or 40 outside. Letting it get warmer or cooler would also save on energy, as the heater or AC wouldn't have to kick in as early one the temp returns to "normal" for the season.
Of course such a system would be significantly more expensive than this 250 thermostat, but it would relieve us from the duty to monitor the outside temp and open/close windows (and turn the thermostat on/off) accordingly.
RE: More sensors needed - inside and out
10/25/2011 9:03:38 PM
Most commercial systems do this, and I believe the Honeywell IAQ does this for residential, though it is very difficult to setup for the average person (and not available from the usual places), and requires either a damper from the outside and/or a dehumid system with fresh air intake.
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