What home product layouts drive you insane? I know I have been tempted to throw my cable box, microwave and vacuum cleaner out the window. For Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers, the humble thermostat’s unsightly and hard design obtained under their skin. Both, both former Apple employees, researched past and current thermostats to come up with a better alternative. “We weren’t planning to design another white plastic box,” Rogers says. The outcome is the Nest, a slick and easy-to-use product with courses to the future of home automation.
If Fadell and Rogers can turn the thermostat into something of beauty, what additional essential home gizmos can use a makeover?
The story behind the Nest thermostat. Like many new goods, the Nest developed from necessity. Tired of looking at boxy thermostats for his new home, Nest Labs founder Tony Fadell sat down to lunch with cofounder Matt Rogers to complain about the thing’s design. “That which was just an ugly plastic box,” says Rogers. They knew they could do better.
“Programmable thermostats were a huge thing from the’80s,” says Rogers. “But after speaking to the EPA, we found out that only 11% of thermostats are actually programmed.” Consumers needed a method to become more comfortable and save energy without needing to remember to readjust and set their thermostats.
The Nest finds people’s heating and ac customs and adjusts appropriately. Aesthetically, the slick design — a circle with a standard degree display — which makes it unlike any other thermostat. The solution came through one of the duo’s first encounters, when a friend attracted a simple circle on the whiteboard with”72°” written in the center.
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What else needs fixing, and what gets it right? The Nest answers a decades-old design problem that had just been overlooked. So, what additional home products can use a makeover? “There are a great deal of things,” says Rogers. “Start with when you walk in the home. The doorway — you need to get your key out to unlock it, technology that has been in use as the 1700s.”
Design issues abound in the average home. Everything from light switches into electrical outlets may become sources of frustration. “All of these things happen to be around and also the same as the’50s and’60s,” says Rogers. “Traditional technology organizations are not in the space. There’s never been a technology company working in this area.”
Are any products getting it right nowadays? “Dyson vacuums,” says Rogers. “They have helped create the vacuum interesting.”
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Rogers also enjoys Simplehuman trash cans, which can be a redesign of a previously unpleasant object. Now there’s an alternative to conventional aluminum or plastic trash cans with awkward lids and ever-present smells. Simplehuman trash cans have motion sensor technology and a beautiful design.
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European companies also have been tackling some of the ugliest necessities, like the smoke alarm. Similar to the thermostat, many smoke alarms are unsightly must-haves. The simply designed Kupu Smoke Alarm is changing that. In Europe — the only place it is accessible — a smoke alarm clock may actually add something to a room’s design.
The world of home design won’t ever be perfect. Lighting, for starters, has been frustrate Rogers (revealed ). “We shouldn’t need to remember to flip a switch each time we move in and out of a room,” he says. While he’d love to redesign each light in his home, he intends to concentrate on the thermostat for now.
The new Nest, published October 2, 2012, upgrades the contemporary thermostat in both appearance and function. Currently compatible with 95 percent of low-voltage residential heating and cooling methods, it’s also available in a slimmer form and with a stainless steel ring to mirror the wall color behind it.
Tell us What home object do you think needs a makeover?