Father of iPod brings hi-tech heating to UK

Smart thermostats will help households save money on heating

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The Independent Online

The ‘father of the iPod’ will keep Britons warm – or cool – in style from November with the launch of his Wi-Fi-enabled ‘smart’ thermostat that has taken the US by storm.

Tony Fadell, Apple’s former senior vice-president, swapped sleek gadgets for central heating in 2011 when he developed Nest Thermostats, ‘smart thermostats’ that can be controlled away from the home through a smartphone app and even learn household habits to adapt temperature accordingly.

Mr Fadell, who earned the nickname ‘father of the iPod’ for his work on the first 18 generations of the music player, included the same wheel interface as the original iPod on the heating gadget, and the Nest also has a digital screen in its centre.

The devices, priced at $249 a pop, have been shipping out of Google-backed Nest Labs at a rate of 40,000-50,000 a month in the US.

Now the $800m-valued group has forged a partnership with property services firm Brolley, and plans to roll-out a version of the product in the UK as early as November. The thermostat uses seven sensors to determine when people are away from home, and develops a temperature-setting schedule based on these patterns.

The government has set a target to install smart thermostats in every UK home by 2020, bringing an end to estimated billing, and ‘smart’ home appliances are seen as a growth area by many technology businesses.

British Gas has already installed more than a million of its own smart meters, which automatically send gas and electricity usage readings back to the supplier. It last week unveiled the Hive meter, a smart thermostat similar to the Nest that can control central heating remotely via an app.

No pricing details were given for the Nest’s UK launch.