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“Brave New Thermostat: How the iPod’s Creator Is Making Home Heating Sexy”

Nest Labs, a Palo Alto startup, announced its “Nest Learning Thermostat” today.  UW CSE’s Yoky Matsuoka is currently on leave as Vice President for Technology at Nest.

“But probably the most sophisticated feature of the Nest is the artificial intelligence that helps it regulate the temperature to your liking — without your having to engage in complicated setup tasks.

“Included among Nest’s advisors is Stanford AI head and Google researcher Sebastian Thrun, who told Fadell and Rogers that the best person in the world to produce this complicated intelligence was Yoky Matsuoka, a 2007 MacArthur ‘genius’ fellow and MIT-trained computer scientist who heads a University of Washington lab, and also was working on futuristic projects for the top-secret Google X division. Rogers set up a meeting.

“When Matsuoka heard him utter the acronym HVAC, she pictured some guy in a blue shirt coming to her house and checking out some dirty spot in the basement to fix something. ‘But seven minutes later, I was captivated,’ she says. ‘I’d seen plenty of smart home projects in academia, beginning in the 1980s, but they just could not take off. When Matt presented the idea, I tried to poke holes in it, but he had answers for every problem I bought up. I realized that this could be the entry point — and that this was an opportunity I could not miss.'”

Read a terrific Wired article hereNY Times hereForbes here. Slashdot here.

October 25, 2011