Zen and the art of the simplified smart thermostat
By Dave LeClair
September 1, 2014
The team behind the Zen thermostat believe that competitor devices that attempt to simplify things for users by taking into account various data actually end up being more complicated and overloaded with features that go unused. To that end, the Zen thermostat has been designed with real simplicity in mind, in both form and function.
The general idea behind the Zen thermostat is to cut back on some of the features found in other devices, such as Nest and the Lyric. These learn the habits of the residents or track the residents through a smartphone app and adapt accordingly. The creators of Zen are going with a more traditional thermostat model, allowing users to control temperatures manually and by a schedule, but without the device actually making assumptions about what they want.
Of course, it's also connected to the internet, allowing users to control the temperature via their smartphone from anywhere there's an internet connection. Zen is also designed as an open system, packing Wi-Fi or ZigBee connectivity and compatibility with smart home systems such as Apple HomeKit. The team also plans to get the device OpenHome Certified.
As for the aesthetics of the device itself, simplicity is the name of the game there, too. It's just a small LED screen that displays the temperature and buttons needed for control. All elements are designed to fade out when not in use, leaving just a simple black or white box on the wall. Additionally, the thermostat mounts to the wall with a magnetic system, making it easy to take down for any reason, such as replacing the four AA batteries – which should only be once every two years. It can also operate continuously if a C-wire is available.
The team has taken to Indiegogo with a goal of US$50,000 to help get the device to market. Backers interested in preordering a thermostat can do so for a minimum pledge of $99, while the early special lasts. From there, the price jumps to $150, with a final retail price of $199 ($50 lower than Nest's thermostat). If all goes well, deliveries will begin from January 2015.
The Indiegogo pitch video below provides some background and more information on the ZEN smart thermostat.
Source: Zen Thermostat