Stage 6: Beta Testing

White Rodgers Thermostat example

White Rodgers Thermostat example

Background — Prior Stages

In 1998, our preliminary research in working with Ron Mace’s Accessible Thermostat (see Stage 8 example of Kelvin thermostat for more background information), revealed great need for a mainstream thermostat that possessed both increased usability and accessibility features. As the baby boomer population ages into or acquires functional limitations or disabilities the market for such a thermostat was rapidly expanding. In addition we knew there existed a sizable secondary market of early adopters of new electronic technology. In 2002 we contacted and entered into a product development collaboration with White Rodgers on developing a thermostat for this market segment. Late in 2002 we ran four alpha (concept definition) focus groups. Three included aging individuals, while one group was comprised solely of individuals identified as early adopters of technology. The purpose of these focus groups was to identify key device features and functions that needed to be incorporated into a thermostat for these market segments.

Step 6.1

In 1998, our preliminary research in working with Ron Mace’s Accessible Thermostat (see Stage 8 example of Kelvin thermostat for more background information), revealed great need for a mainstream thermostat that possessed both increased usability and accessibility features. As the baby boomer population ages into or acquires functional limitations or disabilities the market for such a thermostat was rapidly expanding. In addition we knew there existed a sizable secondary market of early adopters of new electronic technology. In 2002 we contacted and entered into a product development collaboration with White Rodgers on developing a thermostat for this market segment. Late in 2002 we ran four alpha (concept definition) focus groups. Three included aging individuals, while one group was comprised solely of individuals identified as early adopters of technology. The purpose of these focus groups was to identify key device features and functions that needed to be incorporated into a thermostat for these market segments.

Step 6.2

Refine Beta Prototype Models: The pre-production prototypes were returned to White Rodgers for refinement of the devices’ design function and features based on the consumer evaluation of the two pre-production prototypes at the beta focus groups. The beta focus groups’ findings were documented and provided in a detailed report to White Rodgers for incorporation of these recommended device modifications.

Step 6.3

Test Refined Beta Prototype with Consumers in Field: White Rodgers incorporated fifteen different design functions and features from our alpha and beta focus groups into the final product. White Rodgers field tested several units with contractors prior to initiating their production run.

Step 6.4

Refine Beta Prototype Models: No modifications or changes were recommended by the contractors.

Results

In 2006, White Rodgers introduced the 90 Series Blue thermostat, a programmable thermostat with easy to see characters on a 12 square inch touch screen display. The thermostat is easy to install, easy to adjust, possesses intuitive and precise controls and has a signature Blue backlight display that is activated by touching anywhere on the screen. 

This successful launch resulted in thousands of unit sales. In addition in January 2011, White Rodgers announced a new addition to its Blue Thermostat line, Emerson Blue Easy Set thermostats. The new non programmable thermostats feature easy to use “Home”, “Sleep” and “Away” pre-set buttons and are again targeted to address the key concerns of the growing baby boomer generation.