IDSE201 – Revision 1 of a thermostat

When we look at the evolution of thermostats over time, we see the gradual inclusion of new technology. However, the ubiquity of smart phones allows us to reconsider the function and utility of the old wall wart.

Last week I was tasked with exploring a Honeywell thermostat and creating a visual organization of the navigation and option provided to the user.

After a thorough walkthrough of the numerous options provided, I then had to reorganize the model I created into a new model which incorporates my views on thermostat use.

The Honeywell model had a particular focus on giving the user every possible option imaginable. It was also particularly focused on providing a wizard flow for the installer.

In my view, this installer-based optimization does not cover the majority use case, people in their homes who wish to be comfortable.  It also does not take into account the technologies available to improve the efficiency of the system or provide the continuous comfort of the users.

I immediately thought of the incredibly frigid winters of my youth, when we had kerosene heaters and later, a coal stove. I remember how incredibly cold it was in the mornings and how I did not want to get out of bed to start a fire. Even after we installed a central heating and cooling system, I did not want to get out of bed to touch the thermostat.

Now I have a programmable thermostat, and while it is useful, there are still considerable gaps in comfort as the temperature in Austin, Texas fluctuates during the day. A programmable thermostat is still not an intelligent one.

Combining these ideas, it possible to imagine an intelligent control which is portable. In my concept model, I have separated the controls into two systems, one is a simple control on the wall, and the other is a complex control on my phone. Networking these two devices, it becomes possible for me to provide feedback into an intelligent system which takes into account local weather conditions as well as my reaction to the internal climate.

There are more refinements to be made, but this is only the first revision. I may actually build this system out for my home!