Nest 3.5: How a Learning Thermostat Company Learns

MAY 17, 2013

Nest is secretive about its future plans—but the company isn’t shy about being in constant learning mode.

Stephen Lacey: May 17, 2013

Just yesterday, Nest announced that it was offering its smart thermostat in 1,000 Home Depot stores, bringing the company's total North American retail reach to 3,000 outlets. The partnership comes after a series of major software upgrades, utility partnerships and an acquisition that mark a noticeable shift for the company.

Nest's founders, who came from Apple, worked on developing the first iPod. While a thermostat is a far different product from an iPod, that connection to a consumer technology giant inevitably brings up parallels between Nest's product and other successful mobile devices. And like Apple, the company is notoriously quiet about the upgrades it's working on.

In light of Nest's recent news, I spoke with Maxime Veron, head of product marketing, about the company's latest technology developments and how it learns from its customers. Although Vernon wouldn't indicate Nest's next moves, its latest announcements may indicate where the company is headed.

Customer engagement and the need to "keep improving"

When it first rolled out in 2011, the thermostat's learning function, which was supposed to adapt to a homeowner's schedule, was criticized by users and reviewers for not working properly. Since that initial launch, the company has upgraded the device from the 1.0 version to a 3.5 version available today. The 3.5 version was the result of a "complete revamp" of the product six months ago.


Green Remodeling: Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

MAY 15, 2013

You can retrofit your current home for cheaper energy bills and a more beautiful, livable space — without having to move. Five energy experts and architects explain how to make your home more energy-efficient.

Imagine you live in your green dream home. It’s extremely energy-efficient, but also beautiful, comfortable and perfectly suited to your needs. Are you picturing a brand new house? Think again — you can likely turn your current house into your dream home with smart green remodeling.

Plus, the amount of money you can save with energy upgrades is often more than you might think. Russ Rudy, a builder and energy-efficiency expert who has done numerous gut rehabs of homes in the Midwest, says he helps homeowners get energy savings of up to 75 percent when he’s able to rework a house from top to bottom. Even with less intensive work, significantly cheaper energy bills are possible. The nonprofit organization Historic Green, based in Kansas City, Mo., has been doing a series of energy retrofits in one of the city’s neighborhoods. The organization reports it has been able to cut some homes’ energy use in half, resulting in an average cost savings of $100 per month on energy bills.

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