Google-Owned Nest Releases Intelligent Thermostats In The UK

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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The start-up says it was a challenge to adopt the technology to the European market

Nest, the intelligent home electronics start-up recently acquired by Google, has brought its second product to the UK, the Nest Learning Thermostat, which claims to save energy by learning how people move around the building throughout the day and adjusting the heating automatically.

It can also be controlled through a mobile app and costs £179 on its own, or £249 with installation.

The UK is the first foreign market for the thermostat, which has reached our shores three years after it was launched in the US. Nest’s previous product, the intelligent smoke alarm, was launched in the UK, the US and Canada simultaneously.

“This Nest Thermostat is an almost entirely new Nest Thermostat. The one we have in the US and Canada won’t work for the UK because there’s a different problem to solve,” explained Erik Charlton, vice president for business at Nest Labs.

Smart house

Founded by former Apple executives Tony Fadell (who reportedly didn’t get along with Jony Ive) and Matt Rogers in 2010, Nest currently develops just two household devices. The Nest Thermostat is full of sensors which can establish the number and location of people in the house, and alter the temperature accordingly. Meanwhile, the Nest Protect smoke detector can tell its owners the exact location of a possible fire.

Nest-Thermostat-Auto-AwayHeadquartered in California, the company says its mission is to reinvent the “unloved” categories of home appliances and turn them into beautiful, networked devices.

Google acquired Nest in January for $3.2 billion (£2bn) in cash, prompting concerns about customer privacy, however the search giant decided to keep Nest as a separate entity led by Fadell and maintain its customer data separate from Google’s databases.

According to the Guardian, Nest will partner with energy company Npower in the UK, which will market the thermostat to its six million customers. From today, the device is also available from Apple, John Lewis, Amazon and B&Q.

The networked household appliance market is set to explode as the idea of the Internet of Things becomes reality. IDC, Cisco and Ericsson all predict that the number of devices connected to the Internet will hit 50 billion by 2020.

Nest is not the first company to offer an intelligent thermostat to UK consumers and its competitors include Hive from British Gas, Heat Genius and Tado, among others. However, the start-up claims its product is unique because it doesn’t require any programming at all – just adjust the heating a few times, and the rest will happen automatically.

“The Nest Thermostat learns the temperatures you like – and when you like them – to create a schedule that replaces your programmer’s schedule. It also gives you precise temperature control and lets you manage when your boiler is on or off all from one place,” said Charlton.

“The Nest Thermostat will even notice when no one’s home and turn itself down so you’re not heating an empty house. And when you’re on your way back, you can turn up the heat using the Nest app so it’s nice and toasty when you walk through the door.”

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