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6/10/2014
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Honeywell Lyric: Smart Thermostat Targets Nest

Honeywell's new Lyric thermostat senses homeowners' proximity and adjusts temperature accordingly.

8 Gadgets For The High-Tech Home
8 Gadgets For The High-Tech Home
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Honeywell on Tuesday announced the Lyric, a thermostat that uses smartphone location data to heat or cool homes automatically, helping residents save money. The device, which can be controlled from iOS and Android smartphones or tablets, will go head-to-head against Google's Nest thermostat when it reaches store shelves later this summer.

Honeywell claims the Lyric is designed for how people live their day-to-day lives -- in other words, it can handle the busy comings and goings common to many households. Dedicated apps for Android and iOS devices allow owners to program the Lyric thermostat and control it remotely when necessary. This means if you forget to turn off the air conditioning before heading out for your summer vacation, you can do so from the car, train, beach, or wherever you happen to be. The Lyric itself connects to the Internet via WiFi.

Alternately, the Lyric can use geofencing to manage heating and cooling systems. This feature uses the location of your smartphone to automatically turn the Lyric thermostat into energy-saving mode. When it senses the associated phones have moved away from the house, it will turn down the heat or AC. Further, when the Lyric senses you are returning, it will turn the system back on and bring the house to your preferred temperature before you arrive.

[Are predictions of an impending tidal wave of connected devices exaggerated? Read The Looming IoT Backlash.]

The Lyric does more than simply turn the heat and cooling systems on and off. According to Honeywell, the device takes into consideration the local weather conditions, including outdoor temperature and humidity. This data is plugged into its algorithms to help it better manage the climate indoors. The Lyric also provides what Honeywell calls Smart Cues, which are updates and alerts about the owner's heating/cooling system. For example, the Lyric app can tell homeowners when it is time to change the filter in their AC unit, or if the temperature is oscillating too high or too low.

The Lyric can also be managed on the device itself. Like Google Nest, it is round and has proximity sensors that will wake the display when people are near to show the current temperature and status of the heating/cooling system. The Lyric displays an orange light when heating, a blue light when cooling, and a green light when it is in energy-saving mode. Touch-sensitive buttons positioned on the side edges let you control the device manually. Honeywell says it is compatible with most home heating and cooling systems and should be easy for most people to install themselves.

Honeywell's Lyric thermostat (image: Honeywell)
Honeywell's Lyric thermostat (image: Honeywell)

Honeywell has a long history of helping homeowners manage their heating and cooling systems, and the Lyric shows promise. But it is coming to market far behind Nest, and it is at a disadvantage when it comes to pricing. Nest costs $250 and can be purchased directly from Google and other retailers. Nest has the most mindshare when it comes to smart thermostats, and the fact that it is now owned by Google gives it more Internet-of-Things weight. The Lyric costs $280. It is available to heating and cooling contractors now but won't reach retail until August -- which is perhaps too late for people to take advantage of summertime energy savings.

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Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio

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Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
6/11/2014 | 8:39:43 AM
Re: Not intimidated by Nest, clearly
@Thomas once it does go to the cloud, shouldn't it be possible to direct it from there to the mobile device? 
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
6/10/2014 | 4:01:27 PM
Re: Not intimidated by Nest, clearly
If the Lyric routed data to a nearby smartphone rather than to the cloud, it would be worth paying extra to have.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
6/10/2014 | 3:03:06 PM
Not intimidated by Nest, clearly
The Lyric sounds very user-friendly and it's nice to see some Nest competition. But $280? Perhaps Honeywell thinks its rich legacy with traditional thermostats earns it the right to price a smart thermostat higher than Nest. But they may be underestimating the power of branding, cool, and Google. But I like that they're being aggressive about it.
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