Tony Fadell, the man who oversaw 18 generations of the iPod, announced the first product of his stealth startup Nest Labs Tuesday: a sexy, world-saving … thermostat.
“Nest” is a $249 programmable thermostat that can also program itself.
At first, users might frequently adjust the thermometer when they get up in the morning, leave for work, get home from work and go to sleep. Eventually, however, it will learn their patterns and adjust the temperature to appropriate levels automatically. If they leave on a trip, the thermostat will figure out the house is empty and turn the heat and air conditioning to an energy-saving mode.
90% of programmable thermostats are rarely or never programmed, even though the EPA estimates that programming a thermostat to reduce heating or cooling while out of the house can cut 15% off of a heating and cooling bill. By making it easier to “program” temperature, Fadell’s thermostat could put a much bigger dent reducing energy waste and bills than its traditional counterpart. He has told several publications that users can expect to cut up to 30% of their utility bills.
All this, and Nest is a looker, too.
“If you don’t make it look beautiful, people don’t cherish it,” Fadell told Wired. “I want it to be a jewel on the wall so that it’s a conversation piece. People come over and they go, ‘What’s that on your wall?’ and you go, ‘Oh, you’ve got to check this out.’”
The thermostat is round like a jewel. Instead of faint numbers that make users squint, the temperature on Nest is bold and large, front and center. To adjust, you twist the rim around the “jewel.” It turns blue when it’s cooling things down and red when it’s heating them up. A small leaf image discreetly points users toward energy efficient settings.
Should users forget to make a temperature adjustment before they leave the house, they can control the thermostat with any Internet-connected device, an iPhone app or an Android app.
“The Nest is the iPod of thermostats,” says Levy.
And it is. But it’s also still a thermostat, and a thermostat that costs about $100 more than most competitors. Can an Apple-eye for design turn a traditionally boring product into something for which people pay a premium to display?
We likely won’t begin to find out until November, when the device goes on sale. Best Buy and Nest Labs’s website are taking pre-orders.
BONUS: A History of the iPod