iPod “godfather” Tony Fadell has unveiled his latest product, a thermostat that adjusts the room temperature based on people’s habits, three years after his shock resignation from Apple.
Fadell, former head designer of the iPod, stunned the tech industry when he resigned from Apple in 2008. Fadell was once tipped to take over from Apple’s former CEO, the late Steve Jobs.
In 2010, Fadell set up his own company, Nest Labs, with former iPhone software manager Matt Rogers, putting together an impressive team of engineers.
Nest Labs now employs around 100 staff, including former employees of Apple, Google, Twitter and Microsoft.
It has also secured funding from some of the largest venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, including Kleiner Perkins, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Google Ventures and Shasta Ventures.
Nest Labs recently unveiled the Learning Thermostat, a home appliance that readjusts the temperature based on the presence of people and their habits.
The device senses movement, so it automatically turns down if people are away from their home for a certain period of time. It also senses when room lights are switched on.
The thermostat can “learn” the cooling and heating patterns within a house, and can also adjust itself to the weather conditions.
The device is wirelessly connected, so the software can be updated seamlessly. Temperatures can be set remotely from an iPhone or internet browser.
“We created Nest Labs and began recruiting many of the amazing people we’ve gotten to know and work with in the Valley over the years.” Fadell wrote on the Nest Labs blog.
“They were as excited as we were to reinvent such an important yet unloved device… It’s certainly been challenging putting it all together while staying under the radar but we’ve had lots of great support.”
Fadell says the devices will be advertised as “desirable consumer electronics”, glamourising thermostats in the same way Dyson “made vacuums sexy”.
Nest has an agreement with Watsco, the largest distributor of heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration products in the United States.
It also has distribution agreements with electricians and contractors, who install thermostats.
“Turns out you change the temperature in your house 1,500 times a year. Our thermostat learns what temperatures you like so it can program itself,” Fadell wrote.
“And we started from scratch with design, so it’s beautiful. Gorgeous hardware, easy [to] install, fully integrated software, remote control from your smart phone.”
While Fadell is proud of the design, he believes there’s more to the device than “looking pretty”.
“Heating and cooling make up half your energy bill. Everyone’s thinking green, switching their light bulbs, but that’s a drop in the bucket compared to what your thermostat could save,” he wrote.