What’s next for Nest?

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Current user interface on your average household water heater.

Today Nest released its take on the smoke detector. Like the Nest Learning Thermostat, which heats your house only when you need it saving you money in energy costs, it’s smarter and communicates better with other units and with you.

So what’s Nest’s next product? Here’s my take:

It’s time to disrupt the water heater.

Right now, it’s either on, set to a constant temperature, or off. Unless we’re on vacation, our water heater is heating ALL of our water ALL the time, even when we only use a quarter of the tank for evening showers.

If I was writing the MRD, this is what I’d want:

1. Heat only when necessary! Like Nest, learn the household’s usage patterns: When people shower, what time of day, weekends vs. weekdays. When are hot-water using appliances operated.

2. Heat less water. Right now there is one tank, and it’s either heated up completely or not at all. It’s time for internal partitions, enough for one shower, two showers, or any amount decided on by the new controller. By knowing usage patterns, it knows exactly how much to heat up, not just when to heat it.

3. Remote access. Let users change the temperature setting remotely so that they can set vacation mode after they’ve left the house and turn up the heat an hour before they come home.

4. Integrate with other household items. Even out water usage: if an appliance is turned on when someone is taking a shower, delay water supply to the appliance.

5. Have it talk to the other Nest products to detect movement. If no one is at home, then no one needs hot water!

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