Tag Archives | Nest

“Works With Nest” Lets Nest’s Smart Devices Talk to Cars, Appliances, Wearables, Remotes, and More

Nest

So far, Google’s Nest Labs home automation arm makes two smart, web-enabled devices: the Nest thermostat and Nest Protect smoke/CO detector. The count will go to three when the company finalizes its agreement to acquire the startup behind the Dropcam security camera.

Those products, of course, are outnumbered by vast and growing quantities of smart-home hardware and software created by other companies. And from now on, some of the most interesting things which Nest’s devices do may be actions they perform in concert with third-party gear.

Continue Reading →


3 comments

Nest’s Nest Protect Smoke Detector is Back on Sale–Without Its Nest Wave Feature

Nest Protect

Nest Labs–now a part of Google–is a two-product company. One of the products is the Nest thermostat. The other, the Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector, has been on a hiatus of sorts: In April, Nest pulled it off the market after discovering that Nest Wave, the feature which let you wave your hand to turn it off in case of a false alarm, might cause it to stay silent when there was smoke which indicated an emergency. (Last month, the Consumer Product Safety Commission formally issued a recall for existing Nest Protect units–although all that meant was that owners were advised to allow their detectors to download and install an update which disabled the Wave feature.)

Now Nest Protect is going back on sale–first at Nest’s web site, and soon at retailers. But the new units won’t have the Wave feature: Nest, which said when it first disclosed the problem that it might take at least two or three months to address, still doesn’t have a fix. A company representative told me that the company is working on it, and didn’t provide an updated estimate of when it might be ready.

Nest is also knocking down the price of Nest Protect from $129 to $99–a meaningful drop, especially given that most homeowners who like the idea of Nest Protect will want to buy several and install them wherever they’ve currently got a smoke detector.

In other Nest Protect news, Nest is announcing a white paper based on data about carbon monoxide collected from Nest Protect units in the field, which use their built-in Wi-Fi connections to send back anonymous information to the company.

The actual information in the report isn’t all that fascinating: For instance, .15 percent of homes with Nest Protect reported a carbon-monoxide incident during the test period, and the company estimates that a million households in the U.S., Canada and U.K. are exposed to high amounts of carbon monoxide each year. But it’s a reminder of one of the virtues of smart household devices: The big data they collect can help us humans be smarter about important matters such as household safety. That’s sure not true of the garden-variety smoke/CEO detectors in my home.


2 comments

Honeywell’s New Lyric Smart Thermostat Aims to Beat Nest at Its Own Game

Honeywell Lyric thermostatWhen Nest, a startup co-founded by former iPod honcho Tony Fadell, announced its classy, web-enabled, touch-screen thermostat back in the fall of 2011, you just knew that Honeywell–long the biggest name in thermostats–would have to respond.

It did. First, it sued Nest, saying that the company’s design violated Honeywell patents. And then it came out with some models which felt like they split the difference between what Nest was doing and earlier Honeywell high-tech efforts–in one case offering voice control as a differentiating factor.

Now Honeywell is back with the Lyric, a $279 thermostat which is available now through professional installers and will arrive at Lowes stores in August. (Nest, which is now part of Google, sells its thermostat for $249.)

Like the Nest–and unlike Honeywell’s previous web-savvy thermostats, which were rectangular and utilitarian–the Lyric is round and stylish, with a circular LCD display in its center. The look isn’t identical to the Nest, but it’s very, very similar; perhaps to refute any impressions that it’s shamelessly ripping off its rival, Honeywell points out on the Lyric’s packaging that it’s been manufacturing an iconic round thermostat since the 1950s.

The Nest thermostat

The Nest thermostat

It’s not just the shape of the Lyric which is Nest-esque. Judging from a demo Honeywell recently gave me, the new model has more of the polished, consumer-electronics feel which made the Nest so strikingly different from Honeywell’s past efforts. Even more than the Nest, it looks like a snow-white iPod reborn as a piece of tastefully minimalist household instrumentation. (LEDs give it a colored “halo” of light with an informational purpose: orange means it’s heating, blue means it’s cooling, and green means it’s conserving energy.)

Functionality-wise, the Lyric aims to distinguish itself from the Nest without resorting to gimmicks such as voice commands. One of the key differences is how the thermostat keeps tabs on your family’s whereabouts, so it can set the temperature to your liking when you’re at home, and focus on energy savings when you’re not. The Nest does that using a motion sensor which detects when people are in the vicinity, learning about your schedule over time.

Honeywell Lyric app

The Lyric app

The Lyric has a motion sensor, too–one which it uses to put itself into an interactive mode when it notices you’ve approached. But for monitoring whether you’re at home at all, Honeywell’s thermostat leverages its iOS and Android apps. Your phone tracks your location via GPS and reports it back to the thermostat, so the Lyric knows if you’re around the house or at a distant location. And if it notices that you’re headed home, it can begin to adjust itself so that the temperature is ideal by the time you arrive.

Honeywell says that this approach is superior to Nest’s learning-through-motion-detection technique because it doesn’t involve guesswork: The Lyric knows where you are even if you aren’t following your normal routine. It sounds logical, as long as everyone in the family has an iPhone or Android handset. (Alternatively, you can, of course, simply use the Lyric like a conventional thermostat, adjusting it yourself once you get home or on a schedule.)

The Lyric has some other advantages over the Nest, according to Honeywell. For instance, it uses an algorithm to fine-tune the temperature based on multiple factors, such as the humidity inside and outside the house, which Honeywell says results in a 72° that really feels like 72°. It also uses its apps to alert you to matters such as the need to change an air filter.

And in a move which strikes me as particularly clever, it ditches a traditional installation manual in favor of stepping you through its do-it-yourself setup process using your smartphone–even using the phone’s camera to let you snap a picture of the wiring for later reference.

Honeywell Round

Honeywell’s original, iconic round thermostat

If there’s an alternate universe out there where Nest was never founded, it seems unlikely that Honeywell would have invented anything which much resembled the Lyric. Tony Fadell and his team redefined a sleepy category, and the Lyric responds to the Nest both by being similar and attempting to outdo it.

But even if the Lyric is reactionary rather than revolutionary, it seems to be a credible product. Honeywell says that it’s the first in a new generation of smart-home devices which the company will deliver, all of which will be controllable by one unified app. That’s a far more inspiring way to respond to the challenge presented by Nest than by engaging in interminable patent warfare.


3 comments

Nest: It’s the iPod of Thermostats

Many years ago, Tony Fadell took an idea he had for a new gadget to Apple. It was a pocket-sized hard-disk MP3 player. Apple was impressed–and, just over a decade ago, released Fadell’s creation as the iPod. It was, as you may recall, quite popular.

Fadell went on to run Apple’s iPod division, but In 2008, he stepped down and in 2010, he severed all ties with Apple. He and his wife (also a former Apple employee) spent some of their newly-found free time with their kids, and some of it building a green home near Lake Tahoe.

While Fadell was working on his house, he had a new brainstorm. Why not take the thermostat–one of the most boring devices on the planet, and therefore one which is largely ignored by most homeowners–and make it interesting? Why not make it what he calls “a cherished object?” Why not make it a gadget?

Inspired, he co-founded a company called Nest Labs. It’s announcing its creation, the Nest, which it plans to ship in November for $249. And it’s not just the least boring thermostat ever invented: It’s downright interesting. When Fadell briefed me recently and did a demo, I got excited by its potential–and if you see one in person, I think you’ll be just as intrigued.

Continue Reading →


22 comments