iPhone Designer Turns to Home Energy Systems

A major barrier to widespread use of home energy management systems, like smart thermostats, has been the challenge of getting consumers to pay the price tag. These systems can cost $300 or more. One solution has been to get communications carriers, demand response providers, or utilities to pay for or subsidize them. How about another approach? Make them into sexy status symbols that people can’t wait to get their hands on.

Maybe that’s the idea behind Nest Labs, Inc., a secretive Palo Alto startup that includes Apple alum Mike Matas, one of the key designers on the iPhone interface.

Apple is a company that takes design very, very seriously.

Nest Labs has raised VC funds to develop a smart thermostat and other home networking technology. Users will be able to control the thermostat wirelessly from a remote location, as well as receive messages and incentives to help minimize energy consumption.

Can the company set their offerings apart from similar products by Tendril, OPower or EcoFactor?

As Greentech Media points out, “Apple understands how to sell status symbols to people, particularly people who pretend to disdain status symbols.” If Nest Labs can leverage that Apple experience, the company just might have a line of eager buyers extending around the block, and a slew of product evangelists eager for the next generation.

Stay tuned.