Big Ass Fans, the company behind the insanely expensive and energy-saving fans used in high-end homes, is finally ready to ship the connected fan it promised us back in June. For $1,045 ($895 for the fan and $150 for the connected element) you can buy a connected Haiku fan that contains a Wi-Fi radio and microcontroller that learns what you like when it comes to moving air around your home.
To make it more compelling, the company has also integrated with the Nest thermostat, which means you will have the option of setting your indoor temperature on the Nest higher any time you turn on the fan. The idea is that such a pairing will let you raise the temp inside your house to save energy and money. See the screen shot to the right for an example of the pairing.
This is pretty sweet, but I was curious about the choice of radio technology given that both Nest and Big Ass Fans are founding members of the standards organization pushing Thread, a new wireless protocol for the internet of things. Thread will use the existing 802.15.4 (Zigbee) hardware, but run a different software profile that the proponents say will be better optimized for connected devices in the home.
While the Nest has such a radio, the new Haiku with SenseME connected element does not. The only radio is a Wi-Fi one, which Landon Borders, the Big Ass Fans controls engineering manager, says is because the Thread protocol is so new and the fan has been in development for a couple of years. The plan is to see what happens with Thread and then add the technology to new products. He can’t promise a retrofit for the upcoming fan, but Wi-Fi isn’t something that homes are likely to lose, so he’s not concerned about the fan being less functional.
As for folks who already have a Big Ass Fan at home, the bad news is that the older models so far can’t be retrofitted with the SenseME electronics to offer you the same cool learning features. That’s a real bummer, but at least you’ll still have a nice fan.