Updated thermostat becomes a best-seller + award-winner

High design and intuitive function: The Sensi Wi-Fi Thermostat has both—and the award to prove it. Hat tip to Emerson, who saw the market shifting toward smart thermostats with remote access and wanted to respond with an updated version of their more traditional model. They chose Design Central to tackle the design, and we moved quickly, making meaningful changes so the outside would match its smart inside and appeal to consumers and home contractors alike. The result is a fresh yet familiar product, named the Best Value smart thermostat by USA Today’s Reviewed.com.

  • Emerson
  • Commercial
  • Consumer
  • Product Design
  • Engineering
  • Prototyping
  • User Experience

Objective: Refresh the design of Emerson’s thermostat to help it compete in the smart thermostat market.

Competitive analysis informs updated design

Our designers took a broad look at competitive thermostats to understand possibilities and emerging market trends. We created more than 50 concepts around themes, including “sophisticated,” “relevant” and “precision,” so Emerson could narrow in on the verbal characteristics it wanted to define the Sensi. Ultimately, the company settled on maintaining the thermostat’s familiar white appearance while making small-but-impactful changes to the body and buttons.

Fresh look allows for painless installation, market success

Part of the Sensi’s appeal—what makes it a best-seller—is its traditional footprint, which allows for an unfussy installation. We added a backlight, which is beneficial in both installation and throughout the thermostat’s life in the home. Recognizable buttons keep the user experience largely the same, and a floating surface shows off the Sensi’s sleek, minimalist design. Our prototypes confirmed compatibility with Emerson’s manufacturing processes, and the project eventually aided Emerson in capitalizing on a shifting market.