The Challenge

Gauge interest in tado°’s new smart thermostat, identify product and market fit, and raise brand awareness.

Impact

tado° Cooling’s Kickstarter campaign exceeded its funding target, and received widespread media coverage. Concepts helped secure a further $15m in funding.

The Outcome

Industrial design of tado° Cooling, a unified UI language, and assets for the device’s launch on Kickstarter, as well as early visual concepts to support an investor pitch.

Tado° Cooling's wall-mounted thermostat makes dumb air conditioners smart.

Tado 1 1252Px

Have you ever had that gnawing feeling, just as you’re sitting down to your computer at work, that you’ve left the central heating on at home? You’re not alone. Rising concern about wasted energy and the financial cost of unregulated thermostats, as well as the convenience of a connected and cozy home, all point to the rise of the smart thermostat. Berg Insights projects it’ll grow 64.7 percent over the next five years.

Founded in Munich in 2011, tado° is Europe’s biggest maker of smart thermostats and air-conditioning controls. Looking to grow, tado° approached IDEO, a longtime collaborator, with a late-stage prototype for a new, wall-mounted gadget to connect any air-conditioning unit to the web so it could be controlled remotely through a smartphone app.

Dubbed tado° Cooling, the device recognizes when people leave their house and heats or cools the house upon their return. The brand tasked IDEO with a three-fold goal: gauge interest in the device, raise brand awareness, and work out product/market fit.

Owners can monitor and control their A/C via tado°'s smartphone app.

Tado 2 1252Px

After stakeholder interviews, research, and prototyping, IDEO supported tado°’s team in refreshing the industrial design of the hardware and creating a distinctive yet unified user-interface language for the brand’s existing and future products.

To work out what potential customers thought of tado° Cooling, tado° turned to a novel research medium: Kickstarter. Its ultimate goal? Knowing whether people would part with their money for one. The IDEO team provided an overarching crowdfunding strategy, including funding goals, giving tiers, and marketing, and shot the brand’s Kickstarter campaign video.

As a result, the campaign burst through its $150,000 funding goal to $200,000, and scored coverage in a raft of tech media outlets including TechCrunch, GigaOm, TheNextWeb, Engadget, and PC Magazine. After hitting its “stretch goal,” tado° is adding non-A/C device controls, a Windows Phone app, and IFTTT and Jawbone Up integration.

In addition to media coverage, and showing the public’s appetite for the device, the Kickstarter community’s conversation unearthed further user insights that fed into product development, according to tado° head of design, Jens Pohl.

Buoyed by that success, tado° enlisted IDEO to translate user insights and a big-picture overview of the connected home sector into new services to enhance the device’s UX, and introduced new business models to strengthen its European brand strategy. Early visual concepts, learnings, and evidence from this exploration supported the brand’s investor pitch, securing a further round of $15 million venture capital.