I received a Nest wireless thermostat as a present this year and I am beyond thrilled. I know Santa can bring many things so why ask for a thermostat? Most of us don’t give thermostats much thought. For decades the thermostat did not go through any evolution. It was a small, round ring on the wall, usually gold in color. It stayed the same for so long despite the fact that it plays one of the most important roles in the house; controlling the temperature. When we’re cold or hot we walk over to the thermostat and adjust it. It’s a manual process and when we’re not home nothing happens.
More advanced models came along allowing us to program the temperature by day and time. At that point the device shape-shifted to a rectangle and became mostly white. Excellent progress, but still really basic.
One of my pet peeves is when someone walks into a home or office and overreacts to the temperature. Let’s say it’s summer and they are hot. They turn the thermostat down to frozen, but the room doesn’t cool down any faster by setting the temperature to 65° instead of 70°. What happens is the AC runs until it’s 65° then the person feels cold and turns it back up. Two outcomes here. First, the temperature is yet again uncomfortable. Second, wasted energy.
Ok. I’ll get back on track now.
The Nest thermostat is the essence of convergence. Nest not only senses the temperature in your home it also collects information on humidity, light and activity. More data points means more power. It has a touchscreen instead of switches and a beautiful user interface. Nest connects to your wireless network so it can access the time and weather in your area and download system updates. Essentially it learns as I adjust the temperature and uses all the information available to gain efficiency and save energy. You can download smartphone and tablet apps to check in on your home and adjust the temp from anywhere.
It has all kinds of little bonuses built in. Filter change reminders, auto-away, shutting off AC but leaving the fan on to get the cold air out of the ducts, etc. It’s all laid on on Nest’s extremely well designed web site.
We will be seeing a lot of this kind of smartness being built into everyday things, something David Armano (@armano, Managing Director at Edelman) referred to as Sensory Intelligence in his recent collection of Social-Digital Trends for 2013. There is a lot going on in this space today. Robert Scoble (@scobleizer) and Shel Israel (@shelisrael) are working on a new book, “Age of Context” that explores contextual software and how it’s being used today to help businesses and consumers.
The Nest is a bit pricey compared to other thermostats at about $249, but if you are high-tech inclined and looking for even more ways to reduce your energy bills and carbon footprint, this is the way to go. It took me about 20 minutes to install and set-up.