Do you covet the Nest, but worry about the price tag, Google’s prying eyes or an inability to cope with a weeklong training period when you’ll have no idea what temperature your thermostat is trying to set? A startup out of Melbourne, Australia, has a beautiful and slightly cheaper proposition in the form of its new Zen thermostat.
The device, which should retail for between $150 and $200 plans to launch via an Indeigogo campaign on Monday, is the result of an 18-month effort born from Planet Innovation, a design lab. Michael Joffe a founder of [company]ZenWithin[/company], the maker of the Zen, says the idea for the Zen was to build a “good citizen” for the home.
In Joffe’s point of view this means a thermostat that can play on other platforms and will share data between them. Unlike the Nest, which is currently setting itself up as the center of a connected home platform, Zen will come on the scene with a Zigbee radio that will be compliant with the iControl Open home platform.
This means it should work with the current Peq system as well as the offerings of several service providers that rely on the [company]iControl[/company] system for their connected home offerings. The thermostat should ship at the end of January next year, and Joffe says the idea is that consumers would buy the device because it is beautiful and will eventually work with a variety of other platforms, such as [company]SmartThings[/company], [company]Revolv[/company] or others that interface with ZigBee.
He’s also taking the programmatic view of the smart home, expecting consumers to set times and temperatures for the device instead of trying to offer learning algorithms. He expects to offer that over time, but he’s unsure if that’s really the direction consumers want to go today. After training my Nest and the occasional late night checks with the thermostat to make sure it hasn’t suddenly trained itself to a create a different climate, I tend to agree.
However, I do think contextual information and artificial intelligence will grow to become an important part of the smart home. Most people might be willing to program a thermostat, but when it comes to more complex interactions and many devices, I don’t think that approach wins out.
So for those of you eyeing a pretty, connected thermostat that uses Zigbee, check out the Zen. I might if I weren’t banned from installing new thermostats in my home.