Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Thermostat That Learns

Have you ever heard of Tony Fadell?
I hadn't, until this morning that is.

Tony Fadell is "the father of the iPod". I know, you (and I) thought that was Steve Jobs.
Nope, its Fadell.

Ten years ago, while working for Apple, Fadell conceived of the idea of the iPod and brought it to executives. Although the concept originally meet resistance, it eventually led to over 300 million sales... and a historic music revolution.

Now the man who revolutionized the digital music industry has set his sights on another frontier.

The thermostat...
Yes, I'm talking about the household thermostat.

But Fadell's thermostat is no ordinary thermostat. Its a "smart-thermostat".
Fadell describes it as more of a mini-computer than a device that simply reads and regulates the temperature in a house.

Here is how it works...For the first week after installation you have to set the temperature manually...then the "smart" in "smart-thermostat" takes over:

In the first week, it relies on manual adjustments. But after that, algorithms designed by machine learning experts, set the temperature automatically. Those algorithms refine themselves every time you manually adjust the temperature. Sensors constantly monitor temperature and humidity, as well as ambient light and activity near the device or farther away in the house. "We can see if there is anyone in your home," says Fadell. "We learn your schedule and your temperature preferences over a week. And we adapt continuously over time. (CNN Money)

In other words...Fadell's "smart-thermostat" learns when you are in the house, when you come home, what temperature you like while watching TV, what temperature you prefer for sleeping etc. Now that is smart...for a thermostat.

The new thermostat is being developed by Fadell's own company called Nest and will be revealed to the public today and go on sale in mid-November...for $249.

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