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#1 Hum

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 23:10

For an idea that he dreamed up in his spare time, 63-year-old Garthen Leslie accepted a $100,000 check last week from Ben Kaufman, the 27-year-old CEO of Quirky. It’s the first of at least 5 checks of that size that the self-employed IT consultant is likely to receive this year from Quirky.

The five-year-old New York City manufacturing company is on a mission to “bring real people’s product ideas to life.” Leslie’s idea—one of many that the self-confessed tinkerer with a PhD has pitched to Quirky—is a smartphone-controlled window-unit air conditioner that learns users’ habits in order to conserve energy and cut costs while keeping them cool.

Leslie had been ruminating on his “smart air conditioner” since summer 2012. That’s when, driving from his Columbia, Md., home into Washington, he was struck by all of the cooling units hanging out of old apartment building windows. Having spent several years of his career at the U.S. Department of Energy, Leslie naturally wondered about the cost to operate them all day.

He recalls, “I realized the people who lived there had two options: Leave the air conditioner running when they’re out, adding up expenses and energy consumption, or shut it off and come home to a hot and sticky home.” A smartphone married with a new type of air conditioner could provide more flexibility, he thought: You could reduce cooling costs by turning on the air conditioner with your phone as you were leaving work and arrive home to a comfortable room.

But Leslie didn’t have the wherewithal to take his invention any further, so it remained just a pipedream on paper for six months. Then, one night in January 2013, as he was falling asleep in front of the TV, he caught Jay Leno interviewing Ben Kaufman about Quirky’s business model.

When Kaufman described how his company “bridges the gap between great ideas and real products” by developing and compensating concepts contributed by regular people, Leslie perked up. “I had defined a great idea as well as I could, but I was stuck on all this other stuff that needs to happen for it to become a product,” he says. He sleepily jotted down the Quirky URL.

A few days later Leslie created an online profile and submitted not just the air conditioner—described in two paragraphs with a crude diagram—but also another 20 or so of his inventions that had been languishing in an inches-thick file on his desk.

As luck would have it, Quirky shortly entered a partnership with GE to develop Internet-connected home appliances and devices. After the release of the first four Quirky + GE products in November, a GE partner asked Kaufman if any of his community’s inventors had submitted air conditioner ideas. From the Quirky digital archive, where the company stores the 4,000 or more product concepts it receives each week, Kaufman pulled up Leslie’s idea.

GE’s team liked it, so Quirky’s in-house design and engineering team went into high gear that December developing the smart AC. More than 2,000 members of the online invention community chimed in on sizing, specs, and the product name. At home, Leslie watched on the website as his idea joined the hundreds that had been flagged for development.

 

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The Quirky + GE branded Aros will be available this summer in Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Best Buy, P.C. Richard & Son, and Target. For now, the $300 smart air conditioner can be pre-ordered on Amazon, where more than $5 million in sales have already been rung up.

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#2 xendrome

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 23:13

So they integrated a Wi-Fi enabled thermostat into a window unit.. HOW ORIGINAL......



#3 streetw0lf

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 23:37

Is anyone giving you $500,000?



#4 OP Hum

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Posted 06 May 2014 - 01:37

I discovered a cheap, personal 'air conditioner' years ago.

 

Wrap up a piece of ice in a plastic bag, or have a chilled can of soda, or bottled water.

 

Hold it against your forehead.

 

This makes your whole body feel cool. :p



#5 Colicab

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Posted 08 May 2014 - 06:24

More energy saving devices the better.

Aslong as its smart in the sense it isn`t cooling a room no one is in, kind of thing then good job!



#6 OP Hum

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Posted 08 May 2014 - 06:33

A simple 24-hour wall timer could turn on your A/C say, a half-hour before you come home, or turn it off around the time you go to work.



#7 FloatingFatMan

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Posted 08 May 2014 - 11:57

A simple 24-hour wall timer could turn on your A/C say, a half-hour before you come home, or turn it off around the time you go to work.

 

They don't come with timers built in? :huh:  Seems like a pretty basic feature to me...



#8 OP Hum

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 21:04

They don't come with timers built in? :huh:  Seems like a pretty basic feature to me...


My last window air conditoner did.

#9 Praetor

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 21:16

what this brings new is the ability to "learn" the user habits; say i leave everyday at 8:30AM and arrive at 19PM, while i can turn the AC off and on white my smartphone, after a while i don't have to because the AC as learned what time i don't need it on and what time i need it off.



#10 -Razorfold

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 21:20

The five-year-old New York City manufacturing company is on a mission to “bring real people’s product ideas to life.” Leslie’s idea—one of many that the self-confessed tinkerer with a PhD has pitched to Quirky—is a smartphone-controlled window-unit air conditioner that learns users’ habits in order to conserve energy and cut costs while keeping them cool.

Wowwwwwww!!!!!!

Oh wait my ancient honeywell therostat that cost $70 from home depot has exactly the same thing. I could set a time I would return home and it would turn the ac/heat on, and set a time when I'd leave in the morning and it would turn it off. It even has a vacation mode.

God technology moves so fast these days :rolleyes:

#11 +rr_dRock

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 21:30

It's essentially the same concept as the nest, just built into an air conditioner. But, good for him. air conditioning costs a ton of money to run, central air, or window mounted.

 

I've never seen a window mounted one with the purported features, so this is great! About time someone did this.



#12 wv@gt

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 22:54

Its a great idea, but I only see Quirky buying into this idea because of the success Nest had with their smart wall unit 



#13 +LogicalApex

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 23:05

Wowwwwwww!!!!!!

Oh wait my ancient honeywell therostat that cost $70 from home depot has exactly the same thing. I could set a time I would return home and it would turn the ac/heat on, and set a time when I'd leave in the morning and it would turn it off. It even has a vacation mode.

God technology moves so fast these days :rolleyes:

I haven't read entirely, but it probably takes advantage of stuff like BT Low Energy to learn when you are actually home and when you aren't... Allowing it to be a lot more accurate in adjusting that schedule than you were at guessing (unless you arrive and leave all the time at the same time)...

 

Over simplification, but I think you get the idea.

 

Learning devices are the future as people are very bad at accurately setting and maintaining manually programmed schedules.



#14 spenser.d

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 23:13

I haven't read entirely, but it probably takes advantage of stuff like BT Low Energy to learn when you are actually home and when you aren't... Allowing it to be a lot more accurate in adjusting that schedule than you were at guessing (unless you arrive and leave all the time at the same time)...

 

Over simplification, but I think you get the idea.

 

Learning devices are the future as people are very bad at accurately setting and maintaining manually programmed schedules.

 

Yes, not to mention there are plenty of people like myself who don't have to be at work strictly from 9-5 or w/e. When I leave for home varies pretty much daily.



#15 vetneufuse

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 23:25

wow... my Trane AC / HVAC unit already does this with their latest communicating controller and it's fully modulating gas furnace / 40% - 100% variable speed digital blower motor and multi stage AC unit... and yes it does learn based on when you turn temps up and down to figure out what you want compares it to the humidity inside and outside and the temp inside and outside to compute what you want it to be at

 

only real difference is my system cost me $20,000... and does the entire house... this is a whole 300 sq ft 8,000 btu/h AC unit.....





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