Harry Cohen invented the talking thermostat after retiring from a 23-year career as an engineering and sales manager at Honeywell. He started his company Ezra, named after his grandson, in 2000 and released the first VIP series model in 2003.
Cohen said programming the system to talk was not difficult, but he decided not to integrate voice commands because ambient home sounds, such as music or dogs barking, could reset the temperature. The VIP 1007 replaces most two- to five-wire thermostats on single stage heating and cooling units, while the VIP 3000 can control advanced multi-stage home systems. While working at Honeywell, Cohen had asked the company to develop the thermostat but was told there weren't enough blind people for the product to be viable.