Google just paid $US3.2 billion for Nest, a company that makes an Internet connected thermostat and smoke/carbon monoxide detector.
Nest was founded by Tony Fadell, the man who led Apple’s iPod division for years.
The thermostat has been out for two years now, and it’s the product that turned heads. The Nest’s smoke/CO2 detector is new.
I own a Nest thermostat, and for the most part I love it. However, I had one serious problem with the Nest, and I wasn’t the only one.
The Nest thermostat is a gorgeous piece of hardware that looks like something Apple would have made. This isn’t surprising since it came from Fadell. It has a silver ring and an LCD face that displays the temperature. It can sense when you’re home and when you’re away, and adjust the temperature accordingly.
It also has a nice suite of software that lets you control the thermostat remotely. I use the iPhone app that lets you turn up and down the heat. It also lets you set a schedule for when the heat should come on and turn off.
For the most part it works well.
The way my Nest powered itself was problematic. I had two wires coming out of the wall, and I hooked the Nest into those wires. Nest said that those wires would be enough to take care of my thermostat.
Those wires sent a signal to the boiler to turn on and off depending on the temperature. Those wires were also used to power the Nest. Eventually, something went wrong. The Nest was confusing the wires. Every time it went to grab some power from the wire, it sent a signal to the boiler that it needed to turn on. As a result the heat in my house started to race to 72, even if I set the Nest to 64.
I called Nest and it told me to have an electrician come out and rewire my set up so the Nest had a dedicated wire for powering the Nest. That electrician visit cost $US135, which Nest says it will pay for. (I’m still waiting for the reimbursement check. It’s been a few days since I sent in the invoice.)
I’m not the only one that had problems. Other people complained about this issue as well on Amazon.
Then there are other problems. John Borthwick, who leads New York startup Betaworks recently tweeted about a problem with his Nest, “Dear @nest your 4.0 software upgrade resulted in a burst pipe this week. The ability to do graceful roll backs critical for IOT / wearables”
That said, the Nest is a good product overall. Once I got the installation fixed, it worked just fine for me. It’s super convenient to be able to turn down the heat when I’m not home, and pre-heat the house when I’m heading home.
Nest is one of the leading companies in the “home automation” space. It starts with the thermostat, now it has the smoke/CO2 detector. It has more ideas in the pipeline.
Fadell says he wants to take the unloved products in our homes and reinvent them.
With Google as his backer, we expect big, big things.
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