The smart thermostat space has gotten considerably more crowded in the past year or so, but that’s not stopping ZenWithin, a startup based in Melbourne, Australia, from bringing another one into the mix. The company has spent the last year and a half developing Zen: a smart thermostat that’s big on simplicity — and small on high-tech features.
The device, which is set to launch on Indiegogo over Labor Day weekend, is the result of 18 months of intensive development in Planet Innovation, an Australian tech accelerator. Assuming it reaches its funding goal, the gizmo will eventually retail for $150-$200, making it slightly less expensive than the big man on campus, Google’s Nest thermostat.
In contrast to many of the other smart thermostats out there right now, it’s not designed to learn your preferences and set the temperature for you. Instead, ZenWithin focused on making it brainlessly simple for the end user. “While it’s tempting to just keep adding technology, what we realized was that a smarter thermostat doesn’t need more features, what it needs is to be simple to install and easy to use,” the company’s website reads.
In lieu of complex learning algorithms and presence detectors, the Zen thermostat is controlled only by direct programming from you, the user. This is definitely a bold move, as this lack of intelligence might be offputting to some users, but then again, it might be just what the doctor ordered for others. To use Zen, simply tap the display to wake it up, slide right or left to switch modes, and tap the up or down buttons to adjust the settings.
Zen is aslo designed to be an open system using either Wi‐Fi or Zigbee. This means that, in addition to the physical controls, you can use the accompanying Zen smartphone app to set the temperature of your home from anywhere, or use it with your existing smart home system like OpenHome or the forthcoming Apple HomeKit, allowing you to take advantage of different scheduling and energy saving apps.
It’s too early to call whether this simple, plays-well-with-others approach will be a hit with consumers, but time will tell. ZenWithin’s Indiegogo campaign is set to launch on September 1. Find out more here.