I've said before that the next Steve Jobs would be in energy, not in information technology, but I had no idea that day would arrive quite so soon. As filmmaker and design critic John Pavlus reports at Fast Company, Tony Fadell, who invented the iPod, is working on a thermostat as intuitive and potentially revolutionary as … well, as an iPod.
The key to Nest Labs' new smart thermostat is its simplicity. Unlike all other comparable systems on the market, which require that a user literally program in his or her preferences while optimizing for energy use, this thermostat has but one control: a wheel you turn to make your home warmer or cooler.
A small leaf appears on the display when you're making the energy-efficient choice, making the relationship between your behavior and energy efficiency as plain as the much-ballyhooed MPG indicator on the original Toyota Prius. Nest Labs' thermostat even learns from your preferences, dynamically adjusting the home's temperature without you having to articulate, or even realize, what your preferences are.
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