The thermostat is having a midlife crisis - it bought the red corvette and all the features that went with it. You can use it to check your email, plan your vacation, even order a pizza. The thing is, at the heart of a thermostat there is one job - to control the temperature.
A modern thermostat should be simple, it should raise the temperature when you’re cold and lower it when you’re hot. Ideally, it will save you money when you’re away. Reexamining the thermostat lets us revisit those core functions in-order to develop new, elegant interactions that align with our current expectations.
The first job in redesigning the thermostat was thoroughly mapping an existing system, in this case the Honeywell Prestige 2.0. Modeling the Prestige 2.0 let me distill the system to it’s core features. From there, I was able to model a new system to drive my design. The diagram above shows the stages of progression from the old to the current architecture.
The goal of every iteration was simplicity. The first iterations explored the core functionality of the thermostat while the later designs played with the interactions around those core features.
Like the Nest finding inspiration in Henry Dreyfuss’ thermostat, I wanted to find something familiar to drive the language and architecture of my redesign. I found this inspiration in the singular utility of old mercury thermometers, lending the language for the vertical layout of my design.
After each iteration, I used paper prototypes to test the designs with real people. I had a personal bias toward an extremely simple design. Cheap, low-fidelity testing allowed me to continually check this against actual user behavior. It was invaluable in helping me determine the optimal line between simplicity and function.