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  • 07.15.15

Yves Béhar Creates A Smart Thermostat That Resembles A Simple Piece Of Steel

Yves Béhar’s Fuseproject reimagines the home appliance as more of a spartan, timeless device.

The Nest thermostat, for all of its innovation, is a circle with an LCD screen. It doesn’t always glow, yet the shiny black body inherently looks like a piece of technology–with the obsidian sheen of a smartphone or television–hanging on your wall.

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But the Hive 2–a smart thermostat for heat and hot water, designed by Yves Béhar’s Fuseproject for British Gas–takes a more nuanced and timeless approach to the “Internet of Things.”

“We want our objects to be smart, and yet we want the technology to be in the background rather than the foreground,” Béhar says. “We have a philosophy that less screens is often better. We [technically] have a screen, a way for people to program the devices, very very easily. But that screen only comes on when it’s needed. The reflective mirrors serves to reflect the home environment.”

Rather than a chunk of black glass, its face looks more like a polished steel mirror. And it isn’t until you actually touch the thermostat that the UI springs to life, using LEDs to display the temperature, time, and a variety of other indicators.

That mirrored face isn’t actually metal, but a polished injection molded plastic, coated in a reflective film. The resulting effect, however, creates an effective illusion: you can’t discern the edges of the device’s underlying screens and the display just seems to float in the mirror; Industrial design blends with Interface design.

Béhar also points out that the Hive was designed for a wider audience; not just early adopters, but tens of millions of British Gas customers, many of whom are in their 70s and 80s. It’s a demographic that’s less inclined to embrace technology with the fact that this thermostat might live on someone’s wall for a decade, and it becomes “important for this customer that the product does feel timeless,” Béhar says. “And and it’s important that it can evolve over time.”

Fuseproject embraced that idea of evolution by creating swappable frames. So while the face will always retain its reflective look, customers can punch up the edges in any number of colors. On one hand, it’s hard to believe that anyone would actually swap out the frame of their thermostat. On the other, why not give a new home owner the option to customize a thermostat to match their decor?

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The Hive 2 is only available in the UK.

See more here.

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started Philanthroper.com, a simple way to give back every day.

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