What's Old is New Again

POSTED BY on Oct 26, 2011

When I was growing up, there was a constant battle over the thermostat. It was an old school Honeywell dial model -- very much like the version above. Easy to operate: spin a dial to turn it up, rotate back to turn it down. Simple. There starts the battle. Cold kids and mom would frequently give the ol' Honeywell a spin. Usually, it was my thrifty dad, dialing it back, much to the chagrin of the shivering family.

Fast forward about three decades, and the model at my own house looks like the version in the middle of the equation. How times have changed! Digital, programmable, "energy star" rated. Having inherited my father's tightwad ways, I have it programmed to the hilt. Oh, and can you program it! Automagically turns down at night, up in the morning, different schedule for the busy weekend -- all designed to maximize comfort and economy.

Except it doesn't.

A generation later, there's still a #$@* fight over the thermostat in my house. People mess with my precious programming. They turn it up. They override my settings. They get too hot and turn it down again. They think turning it up higher will heat the house faster. They hit random buttons.

Enter the Nest. When it was announced earlier this week in a flurry of blogs, PR events and hoopla, I was immediately struck by how familiar it was. Hey, does someone really have the gall to "invent" the old dial thermostat and call it new? I've had enough of modern musical artists redoing old songs -- and having new listeners actually think it's the original. 

But wait, despite the surface of simplicity -- this thing might actually be pretty sophisticated. It "learns" the patterns of the users -- it actually EMBRACES the thermostat battle.

My thermostat works fine. This wasn't something I needed. Until I saw it.

Which brings me to my long-winded point. Good design solves a problem I had long ago resigned to being unsolvable. From out of the blue, a new approach. Simple, elegant, beautiful. The team behind the Nest are Apple alumni, so it makes sense. It also figures that they'll charge an arm and a leg for it. I'm in.


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Dec 5, 2011 at 1:53pm

If you could set thermostat administrators it would be perfect!

David Bates

Nov 1, 2011 at 6:44am

I wants it, my precious!!


Oct 26, 2011 at 8:53pm

Back to the basics, intuitive and appropriate use of technology. Gotta convince my folks to get one for the house so I don't get yelled at my dad for turning up the heat when I visit!