The initial run of of Nest’s artificial intelligence thermostats will be shipped out to pre-orderers tomorrow, said Nest founder and CEO Tony Fadell at GigaOm’s RoadMap conference today. Previously the company had said the devices wouldn’t ship until the end of November. Users are so desperate for the home heating revolution that the devices have sold out and are back ordered. Those who’ve since reserved their units may not receive them until February 2012. Fadell says Nest has ceased taking orders until it can catch up.
At the conference, Fadell spoke of several of the innovations in the company’s device. It will analyze the thermal decay of a house to determine how long it takes for heat to dissipate. This helps prevent it from continuing to expend energy if the warmth of daylight will return before the house cools down. An “Auto-Away” feature uses far-field motion detection to assess whether no one is in the house for a few days, perhaps because you’ve gone on vacation. If so, the unit goes into low-energy mode.
The Nest thermostat also tracks your manual heating adjustments. For example, it can learn that you turn off the heat when you leave for work in the morning and turn it back on when you return in the evening, and then start to automatically make these changes for you. Fadell explained that “Absolutely I’d call it AI”, and these he’s proud to count a world expert on machine learning from Carnegie Mellon as a team member.
When asked what about the Nest development process made him cry, Fadell lamented that they spent so much time designing their unit but that the problems start with”the thing this attaches to. There’s 40 to 50 years of heating ‘technology’” with a with a wild variety of different wire and voltage standards that Nest has to try to be compatible with. Tomorrow, Nest can expect the start of an influx of customer service inquiries from buyers trying to connect their next generation thermostats.
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