At Roadmap 2011 conference in San Francisco last week, Tesla Motors demonstrated their beta version of the Model S Signature (see the slide-show) and allowed visitors to experience how the future connected car will look and feel.
The Roadmap 2011 conference addressed the next wave of leading and shaping technologies in connected spheres. Connectivity is changing major areas in our lives, from how we consume media, the business environment, and our homes to transportation, education and healthcare.
Significant trends in consumer connectedness in the next 12-18 months affect several industries, including digital media and broadcasting, collaborative communities and the workplace, as well as environmental solutions. Utilizing digital media, mobile, cloud, analytics models, and the Internet, e-commerce and consumer engagement are bracing the new era of networked and mobile/wireless communications.
Connectivity will also change how we use energy in our homes. Meet Tony Fadell from Nest Labs in Silicon Valley, CA. Mr. Fadell has worked with Steve Jobs for several years and architected Apple’s iPod and the first few versions of the iPhone, some of the most successful consumer electronics products in our time. He left Apple two years ago to start Nest Labs, a well funded startup which designs and makes a connected ‘smart’ thermostat. Fadell co-founded Nest with Matt Rogers. The Nest thermostat has a sleek design and imbeds intelligence where behavioral algorithms help home owners save 20 to 30 percent on their energy bills. Currently, the device is sold out (at a price of $ 250) till the middle of January, 2012.
How did Fadell come up with the ‘smart’ thermostat idea?
While building their new ‘green’ home, the Fadell family made a commitment to the environment. When installing the heating and cooling (HVAC) systems at the new house, Mr. Fadell ran into the old-fashioned thermostat models, that have been designed and available to us for decades. He was frustrated with this ancient and ineffective technology and decided that thermostats will be his next project.
The concept of the thermostats we currently have is 40-50 years old – a programmable thermostat. To save energy, the aim was for residents to program their schedules for regulating home temperatures, which proved to be complex and not popular in use. The Nest Learning Thermostat presents a different approach: instead of needing to be programmed, the thermostat learns from the residents on how to save energy for them.
On the Nest website, the company provides step by step help on how consumers can teach their new ‘learning’ thermostat to maximize energy savings and reduce utilities bills. In order to avoid unexpected temperature fluctuations in the family’s schedule, the quick guide emphasizes the first week as the most important phase in the set up process. Consumers can decide on how to set the temperature, adjust to their comfort levels and balance energy efficiency. In the first week of installation, residents’ energy ‘behavior’ will be used by Nest as a template for the future, minimizing the need to turn temperatures up and down again and again. This thermostat gives owners the history of every temperature change. Residents have the ability to change their set or adjust schedules (i.e. teach Nest new schedules/temperature levels). It also enables to set ‘an away’ option where the heating/cooling system will be turned off or if the home reaches a pre-selected minimum temperature. Other features are an automatic temperature reduction at night.Multiple thermostats can be used independently in different rooms for various needs.
The company envisioned the thermostat as a mobile application, which can be used remotely from laptops, smartphones and tablets. Through two new applications, the Nest Account and the Nest Mobile App, consumers have access to the thermostats from any location and at any time.
Recently, a Beta version of the mobile software has been released and is currently available on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, with Android capabilities soon to follow. The current version of the mobile app can
- Control up to ten thermostats in two homes from one account.
- Change the temperature.
- Check and adjust schedules and settings.
- Set Nest in and out of Away mode.
Is Nest a product company or a system company?
At the conference, Mr. Fadell said that his company’s successful product is sold out through their website and at Best-Buy retailers. He attributed the success of the thermostat to its functionality and effective usage. With several sensors, the small and robust device gives users information they didn’t have before in tracking and managing their home energy utilization.
Similarly to how the iPod has redefined the music industry from consumption to supply, some believe that Nest’s thermostat has the potential to redefine the century old energy industry in the US.
1. Nest Labs is located in Palo Alto, CA
To contact Nest, email email@example.com
Nest is constantly looking for thinkers, builders, and high performers and has currently several job openings. Check http://www.nest.com/careers/index.html
2. GigaOm – A major provider of online media, events and research for global technology innovators. Founded in 2006, the company provides credible and professional business and technology content to an online audience of more than 4 million monthly unique visitors; produces industry-leading events; and offers a market research service, expert analysis and research on emerging technology markets.
Roadmap event: Click on http://event.gigaom.com/gigaomroadmap/
Check other GigaOm events at http://event.gigaom.com/