My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Nest Labs and Honeywell locked in battle over Self-LearningThermostat - War of the Worlds over My Science Project that Apple loves

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Nest Labs and Honeywell locked in battle over Self-LearningThermostat - War of the Worlds over My Science Project that Apple loves

My main complaint about the recently concluded Apple WWDC from Monday June 11th 2012 is a lack of new gadgets or any innovative new tech. Just upgrades to iOS 6.0 and a new Retina Display MacBook Pro; nothing like I’d predicted related to Apple MacBook Pro, Apple Mac Desktop or even Bluetooth for the Apple iPod line as anticipated in my blog article entitled “Apple's WWDC heralds the Return of the Mac and iOS 6.0 - Future Hunt for Red October Amazon and Samsung in Mini-Tablets and IPTV” .

However Apple does have a history of supporting innovative tech items. A couple comes to mind readily…..

The first one is Square, the Silicon Valley Startup headed by Twitter co-founder and Chairman Jack Dorsey aimed at turning your smartphone or tablet into a POS Terminal which Apple supports via retail endorsement as stated in the article “Square and the Cash Register - SME Deep Impact” and “VISA and Jack Dorsey's Square - Leena's TechCrunch of SME's Mad Money”.

The other is little know start up Nest Labs, makers of the US$249 Nest Self-Learning Thermostat that debuted in November 2011AD in the article “Introducing a thermostat Steve Jobs would love: Nest”, published October 24, 2011, 9:40pm PT By Katie Fehrenbacher, GigaOM.

Founded by former Apple Engineer Tony Fadell, who worked on the iPod and iPhone, support from Apple for their Device is only natural. The Nest Self-Learning thermostat, which is a complete suite including the software, database and thermostat, is a godsend for those, who like, Tony Facell, have angst about adjusting their thermostat, muchless fiddling with it.

Customers seem to agree and have been snapping up pre-orders via Best Buy since November 2011AD as stated in the article “Nest Labs burns through thermostat orders”, published November 3, 2011 6:42 AM PDT by Candace Lombardi, CNET News.

The Nest Self-Learning Thermostat, now ten thousand (10,000) plus customer strong, is oft bestowed with the ominous titled of “Apple iPod of Thermostats” simplifies the job of setting a Thermostat, usually the job of the persons who installed due to their inherent complexity to program. It does so by having the following convenient features:

1.      Temperature Sensor
2.      Humidity Sensor
3.      Light Sensor
4.      Two Motion activity Sensors
5.      Wi-Fi Connectivity for remote programming via Apple iPhone or Android smartphone
6.      Smartmeter Features powered by Zigbee

What’s unique about their design is the clean simple and minimalistic LED Layout and its intuitive interface that basically learns you preferences for Temperature settings after you twirl the round shiny knob a couple times to adjust the temperature.

The Nest Self-Learning Thermostat’s Wi-Fi connectivity coupled with its array of sensors enables it to learn about your temperature habits, the person who installed it, once set in Learning Mode. Using Wi-Fi, it can get the temperature of the outside of the house, crucial to making sure the thermostat can cool the house to the desired temperature without wasting energy.

The motion controller means that it will only be operational when there is motion in the room. Even more interesting is that the thermostat can estimate the time it will take to get the room to the desired temperature.

A recent upgrade to its firmware, which can be done via the Internet as noted in the article “Nest's smart thermostat chills out with new A/C feature”, published April 5, 2012 6:00 AM PDT by Martin LaMonica, CNET News, saw Nest Self-Learning Thermostat inherit a few new tricks:

1.      Energy history for a longer period of 10 days
2.      Indication of times heating and cooling were turned on and off
3.      Indications of the source of the Thermostat adjustment i.e. the weather, a manual adjustment, or auto-away setting
4.      Airwave, a feature for users in in dry climates that runs the air conditioner only and thus saves 30% electricity
5.      Monthly reports on usage
6.      A Leaf icon to indicate the usage of a more efficient usage setting


So it’s no surprise that this company ended up getting  retail Endorsement from Apple as of May 2012AD and even Amazon as of June 2012AD as stated in the article “Apple now selling Nest Learning Thermostat”, published May 30, 2012 7:50 AM PDT by Lance Whitney, CNET News and “Nest Learning Thermostat lands on Amazon”, published June 8, 2012 7:36 AM PDT by Joshua Goldman, CNET News.

So when Honeywell decided to take Nest Labs to court in earlier in the year in February 2012AD claiming patent infringement on their own in-house designs for Self-Learning Thermostat as stated in the article “Honeywell slaps Nest Labs with lawsuit over thermostat”, published February 6, 2012 8:19 AM PST by Martin LaMonica, CNET News and “The details behind the Honeywell, Nest lawsuit”, published February 6, 2012, 10:26am PT By Katie Fehrenbacher, GigaOM, Nest Labs naturally turned to Apple.

To be precise, Apple’s former Chief Intellectual Property Officer Richard “Chip” Lutton in the capacity of Vice President and General Counsel since April 2012AD as indicated by the article “Nest taps Apple’s former patent chief to fight Honeywell lawsuit” published April. 12, 2012, 6:00am PT By Katie Fehrenbacher, GigaOM.

When I heard the story about Honeywell taking Nest Labs, makers of the innovative Thermostat that only Apple would love, I was quite perturbed.

Nest Labs then filed a counterclaim on April 12, 2012AD as pointed out in the article “Nest Labs to Honeywell: We'll see you in court”, published April 12, 2012 6:00 AM PDT by Martin LaMonica, CNET News.

This counterclaim, a response to Honeywell’s accusation of copyright infringements, points out, among other things, quote:  “Instead of countering product innovation with its own new products, Honeywell has a track record of responding to innovation with lawsuits and overextended claims of intellectual property violations.”

The world of Honeywell is not just about Process Control as described in my blog article entitled “Digicel cuts 120 Call Center Jobs - Fullgram Solutions to benefit as Antonio Graham speaks of an AEPP future by the Ocean. Neither is Honeywell just about making Cameras or mainframe computers years ago.

Their business is very diverse and mainly in partnerships from Bauxite to even Satellite Broadband as stated in my blog article entitled “Honeywell partners with Immarsat for In-Flight Satellite Broadband in 2013AD - Konshens Gal a Bubble for Qualcomm Aiprlane Broadband”.

Clearly a company using its treasure trove of patents to stifle innovation by claiming that they first came up with a concept, which ironically they even admitted not using. A point Nest Labs made in their counter-claim, quote: “Instead of filing lawsuits, Honeywell should use its wealth and resources to bring innovative products to market”.

Folks, this is very interesting and promises to be an interesting legal battle, effectively a War of the Worlds (2005) over My Science Project (1985) that Apple loves. Stay tuned…..


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