Tado turns "dumb" air conditioners into smart, energy-saving devices
By Nick Lavars
May 22, 2014
As internet-connected appliances continue to make their way into the modern home, you'd probably think that cooling your house with a smart air conditioner would involve going out and buying a new one. German company Tado is looking to bring your existing unit up to speed with its Tado Cooling system, a Wi-Fi-enabled device that turns any old air conditioner operated by infrared remote control into a smart device.
Tado Cooling is a 100 x 100 x 10 mm (3.9 x 3.9 x 0.4 in) wall-mounted unit that uses infrared to control your air conditioner. It is fitted with six infrared emitting diodes that the company says give it a 180 degree range, essentially replacing the AC's remote control and handing its functionality to the user's smartphone over Wi-Fi.
While the companion app provides control over temperature settings and information on usage, the real value of Tado Cooling lies in its geolocation functionality. The system is able to track when the last person leaves the home and automatically turn the cooling off to save energy. Then, when a resident is approaching home, Tado turns the air conditioner on again to pre-cool the home to the user's preferred temperature.
In addition to tracking the user when they're out and about, Tado Cooling is Bluetooth and iBeacon capable, which allows it to monitor users' movements within the home. This might prove useful for those with multiple air conditioning units, with the system able to adjust the temperature in each room as residents move around the house. Though this approach requires the installation of multiple Tado Cooling units.
The companion app is currently available for iOS and Android devices. But if your smartphone takes its responsibilities as a remote control a little too seriously and goes missing under the sofa cushion, Tado can be controlled manually via its capacitive touch interface. It also features a humidity sensor, allowing users to set an ideal humidity level and the AC to kick into action when it begins to waver.
Tado first emerged as a player in home energy management last year on the back of its Tado Heating smart thermostat. This product serves a similar function to Google's Nest in automating climate control in the home. What is different about Tado Heating, however, is that rather than using algorithms to learn the user's habits and self-optimize over time, like Tado Cooling it focuses on geolocation services to moderate temperature and save power.
Tado has turned to Kickstarter to raise funds for commercial production of its smart cooling system. Early pledges of US$99 are available with shipping slated for August if all goes to plan. You can see the company's pitch video below.