Inside Nest

Here’s what we’re working on and thinking about at Nest.

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From iPod® to thermostat.

Matt Rogers

When I was three years old, my dad bought my first computer, a Macintosh Plus. I loved it. I would spend hours every day playing with it. I may have needed a lot of help from my dad with the tricky stuff, like shooting gargoyles in Dark Castle, but that computer was designed such that even a child could understand and master it.

It was right around then that I knew I wanted to work for Apple to build these awesome computers. I got the usual, “Oh yes, that’s very nice, Matt” from my family. What else would you tell a three year old? But I knew then what my life’s work would be.

I spent five years there and worked on a variety of iPods, iPhones, and iPads. I absolutely loved it. Then I left.

Apple was my dream job as a kid because of what Steve and Woz did: design products intuitive enough for a child, but so powerful they redefined entire industries. As an adult, I wanted to do the same. So Tony and I found an industry to redefine.

The gap between the consumer experience in mobile products and the ones in our homes is enormous. I’ve been a programmer my entire life and could not program a thermostat for the life of me. I looked at it and thought, this beige plastic box cannot be the best our generation can come up with. Surely, there must be a better way.

We’ve worked for a year and a half to create The Nest Learning Thermostat. It’s the culmination of all we care about — cutting waste, creating technology that makes a difference, solving a daily frustration — and everything we’ve learned:

  • Invest a ton in design.
  • Sweat even the smallest details.
  • Never compromise when it comes to the customer experience.
  • Push technology further than anyone thinks it will go.

In our combined 15 years in the iPod division, Tony and I learned to strip down problems to their most elemental parts. So what does a thermostat need? Not a touch screen, not a clock, not weather updates, pictures of your kids, temperatures to the tenth degree or the barometric pressure. A thermostat needs to tell you the temperature in your home, allow you to easily change that temperature, and remember what you’ve done so you don’t have to do it again.

How should a thermostat look? We took our cue from the consumer electronics we knew, since the status quo clearly needed shaking. Thermostat design made its last great leap in the 1950s with Henry Dreyfuss. 60 years ago. It was time to make the thermostat beautiful again, but also make its interface simple, clear, friendly.

We were focused on creating useful features, clean design, and grasping that ineffable quality that makes people want to touch, hold, play with your creation. Feature creep is not an option. Complications for the customer are not allowed. Your product needs to be elegant, functional, revolutionary. That’s what Steve Jobs put into the water at Apple. I hope the Nest Learning Thermostat would make him proud.

Matt Rogers