Nest Labs isn't counting solely on the allure of discounts from power companies to reel us in this spring. It's pushing out a 3.5 update to all versions of the Nest Learning Thermostat that should be make it smarter about saving money -- even if it means spending a little up front. Along with the utility tie-ins from last week, the upgrade adds a Cool to Dry mode that invokes air conditioning when it's too humid, raising the energy bill slightly to avoid a costlier mold outbreak. The thermostat also won't be easily duped by the sun: a new Sunblock setting prevents unnecessary cooling whenever direct sunlight affects the temperature reading. Homeowners who just want more precision, meanwhile, may be happy with both refined fan scheduling (shown above) as well as mobile app updates that introduce alert messages and a more thermostat-like interface. Those with Nest units connected to WiFi should see version 3.5, and hopefully its intended savings, by 9PM Eastern tonight.
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We'll be frank: it takes some pretty special features for an air conditioner to pique our interest. Consider us intrigued, then, when LG unveils a truly tech-savvy cooling system. A 2013 Champion-style Whisen unit is reportedly the first to directly take voice commands from as far as 16 feet away, letting us cool things down without having to leave our chairs. The AC system is uncommonly aware of the mobile world, as well. Tap an NFC-capable smartphone like the Optimus G on a programmed NFC tag and LG's Whisen App 3.0 will automatically adjust the temperature, on top of more conventional remote control. Still not sophisticated enough? The new Champion has its own built-in camera with mobile viewing -- it can double as a not-so-subtle security system while we're away at work. Full details of its launch aren't yet available, although LG is taking reservations for South Koreans between January 14th and March 31st, well ahead of the hot summer.
Source: LG (translated)
If a wireless light bulb wasn't quite the Jetson's style future you were hoping for, perhaps Panasonic's planned expansion of its smart home appliances will better scratch that itch. From next month, there'll be an Android app to let you remotely operate appliances, view energy savings and program settings via NFC. Hardware-wise, the electronics giant is introducing connected air conditioners, refrigerators, washer-dryers as well as smaller devices such as blood pressure monitors and calorie meters. Along with remote control, there appears to be some supportive cloud-based services too, such as reporting device faults to customer service and generating reports (from the healthcare products). When can you get a taste of the future? September 25th if you live in
Orbit City Japan. As for the rest of the world? We'll just have to be patient.
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