Former Apple, Google Engineers Develop Nest Learning Thermostat
October 25, 2011 12:04 PM
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.
"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes
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