Winter might be coming in Game of Thrones, but summer is coming in America. And in preparation for more potentially record-breaking heat, Nest is releasing some interesting new software updates for its smart thermostat.
The first is a product called Sunblock that responds to heat gains when the thermostat is directly in the sunlight. The light sensor on the device follows the sun's movement and adjusts the temperature accordingly. According to Nest, nearly two-thirds of thermostats sit in direct sunlight at some point during the year, causing the device to read temperatures incorrectly and run air conditioning when it doesn't need to be on. The company says this is one of the top issues that customers complain about.
The second is an update to the Auto-Away feature that automatically responds to a homeowner's schedule. When Nest launched its first-generation product, a number of consumers criticized the learning feature for failing to properly adapt to varying schedules. One reviewer said the product "isn't ready for the duties it claims to have mastered." Some commenters on our last Nest story said the product is still difficult to use. Nest now claims its Auto-Away function has "gotten much better at learning when you're coming home."
Nest also updated its mobile platform for remotely controlling the thermostat, added a dehumidifying feature that uses a sensor to control the air conditioner when humidity increases, as well as a new way to schedule fans.
"If we've learned one thing about our customers in the last year, it's this: they really like fans," wrote the Nest's VP of Engineering Matt Rogers in a blog post.
The company said these updates are a direct response to the features that customers are demanding or updates to products that people have complained about. The release, which will be automatically pushed to Wi-Fi-connected devices, builds on Nest's recent partnerships with utilities to create residential demand response programs around its thermostat. Last week, Nest rolled out a new seasonal adjustment function and a rewards program that compensates homeowners for automatically turning down their heating or cooling during peak demand.
Nest Labs was founded by two former Apple employees who worked on developing the iPod. The company has gotten a lot of attention from investors, utilities and consumer technology enthusiasts for building an intelligent thermostat that resembles an Apple product. While the device has gotten mixed reviews for its intelligence and ability to respond to changing conditions, Nest says it is listening to customers and constantly working to update the product.
As George R.R. Martin writes in A Game of Thrones: “Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.”
As Nest grows up, starts building its functionality and learns from how consumers use the thermostat, the product will continue to evolve -- much like the iPod has over the years.