Microsoft Shows Off a Smart Thermostat

Posted on July 20, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Mobile, Windows 10 with 32 Comments

Microsoft Shows Off a Smart Thermometer

A new Microsoft promo video depicts a smart thermostat that is powered by Cortana, Windows IoT Core, and Azure. How’s that for a digital transformation?

The device, called GLAS, will be made by Johnson Controls, which appears to be a maker of high-end building products aimed at the commercial market. GLAS is promoted for both home and work, but it is clearly a premium product, and should come with commensurate pricing.

But it does look cool. Here are the highlights, culled from the video.

It’s powered by Microsoft technologies. GLAS can be used physically via a touch screen, but it also supports Cortana voice activation. And it’s built on Windows IoT Core and utilizes Microsoft Azure on the backend.

It’s gorgeous. This is arguably the nicest-looking smart appliance I’ve ever seen, and the interface is neat, where you swipe from screen to screen to access additional controls. That screen, by the way, is transparent, too, so you can see the wall behind it for a more seamless look.

It’s smart. “GLAS knows when you’re in the room,” the video narrator says. “And when you’re not.” That means it can adjust the temperature not just on a schedule, but based on the presence of people. It also constantly measures the air quality, indoors and out, and adjusts its settings accordingly.

There is no word on availability or pricing, naturally, and Microsoft isn’t talking, at least not yet. But if you’ve been pining for any sign of life from Redmond in this area, GLAS looks pretty credible. And perhaps more relevant and interesting than a smart speaker.

 

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Comments (32)

32 responses to “Microsoft Shows Off a Smart Thermostat”

  1. Avatar

    mdb17

    Not to be one of those persons but I believe you mean thermostat

  2. Avatar

    Chris Payne

    My guess is that this is just a promo video for a future product that doesn't (or won't ) exist.... BUT, if it is real, how did they get the touchscreen transparent? As far as I know, there are no products with transparent screens today? Transparent screens, I've long thought, will be the next "must have" feature that will kick off a new revolution in personal electronics.

    • Avatar

      Andygoes

      In reply to unkinected:

      Transparent screens have been around for a while. Leyard makes some transparent OLED screens, and I've seen virtual interactive "concierges" at airports that are screens cut out in the shape of a human with the face moving - it's all canned video, though, nothing truly dynamic. I don't recall who is making these (I was thinking Epson, but I couldn't find anything with a quick search), but I've seen them at tradeshows the last couple years, as well.

  3. Avatar

    nbplopes

    I just wonder if this product will be bought because it makes use of Microsoft tech. Maybe for companies but end user would care less for that. All they will be looking at is how efficient and robust the unit is for the purpose, but nothing in the commercial points it out. Just a thought.


    Nice piece of glass though ...

    • Avatar

      Roger Ramjet

      In reply to nbplopes:

      I think this product could be part of a far reaching network effects strategy by Microsoft that could give Cortana a big boost. It sort of dovetails with things they have been saying and showing. Here is what I am thinking the playbook is like:

      The product (as well as other IoT elements) will be aimed at both consumer & business. But some businesses will buy it as a customer service item (think hotels, colocation offices, hospitals etc) It is a big deal that JCI as well as other potential manufacturer partners of Microsoft, have the business model and relationships to get this into the commercial wild, whereas Nest(Google), and Ecobee(Amazon) cannot, they just release stuff and hope for consumer tornados.

      It goes further: Microsoft's dual channel approach means that unlike the other thermostats, the actual end user of this thing doesn't have to pay a dime to experience it, you don't have to buy nothing, it is presented to you in your hotel, office, etc. Just get a Cortana Identity of some sort, then if you really liked it, you go out and buy for your home, but in the meantime it serves the cool factor for Marriott, Hyatt, or any enterprise who will amortize against their millions of customers.

      So, this approach actually combines the old Microsoft recipe for success with the desktop where businesses drove demand and consumers followed, and the Apple iPhone recipe (with a twist) where the actual cost of the phone was hidden from consumers. As a way of getting a jump on IoT consumer usage, it would be brilliant.

      Then there is the obvious design element of being able to remove that UI from the base, which no other thermostat has done (Microsoft gone crazy with "mobility". I wonder why ... :-)). I expect there would be some benefits associated with that above what is available in the marketplace now.

      All that said that is the opportunity side. Amazon seems well ahead on signing up makers of other devices so Microsoft would have to overcome that somehow to win here. They have already addressed the other big deficit of no mobile platform by realistically making Cortana and any other software that would be needed available on iOS & Android. Finally, Microsoft (not Amazon really) are the king of cloud (they have end to end things that touches all these potential partners & customers while Amazon really only has AWS), so that is another advantage because that is where all this data & software for this Nadella's version "mobility" strategy (the data will follow you everywhere the IoT device is available) is driven from.

      • Avatar

        nbplopes

        In reply to Roger Ramjet:


        Personally I am a bit tired of MS grand plans. I have way too many times analysed MS options and what it could potentially do with their power. It always came out not straight to the point and in practice lacked the robustness to take tech out of peoples way. Pack that with the constant tech marketing of this and that only to come way too short of image pumped ... tiring.


        Don't see why this time is different. Maybe, maybe not, but I am no longer excited to shell out thousands. Ill see it when i see it. No5 available to beta testing anymore.

  4. Avatar

    John Scott

    So being positive this thing looks great. But in my home my wife sets the temp and no smart thing is going to tell her different.

  5. Avatar

    Winner

    What is it with Microsoft?

    Apple has the ipod > let's do the Zune!

    Google does search > let's do Bing!

    Apple does ipad > let's make Windows tablet compatible!

    Amazon does AWS > let's do Azure!

    Fitbit does a tracker > let's do the Band!

    Nest does a thermostat > let's do a thermostat!


    At least the Surface was actually original. The rest of the time they seem to be catching up with everybody else. Very reactive.

  6. Avatar

    robincapper

    Cortana? In this first world English speaking tech savvy country Cortana is as real as Hobbits, no, less real than Hobbits.

  7. Avatar

    Ekim

    Looks nice but I already have a Nest. Now if this worked with eHome - shit what was I thinking. They killed Media Center so no eHome.

  8. Avatar

    Roger Ramjet

    OK, this thing is likely going to be more interesting. The strange cradle clearly makes the UI part easy to remove a la Panos Panay thingys. There must be some reason for that. How far it goes we will soon see. Most ambitious case, it could be an attempt at an Apple type "reinvention" a la iPhone for the thermostat world just as they claimed in the video, which is easy to dismiss/overlook because they all say that.

    At the minimum, I expect you will be able to walk up to this thing, sign in, and it will adjust any room: hotel or office room or anywhere else you go (where the owner has permitted you) to your preferences(as long as the room is controllable in the buildings control system). Not being a user of the existing devices, don't know if Nest &/or Ecobee can already do that in theory, I doubt it. But JCI can get this into the wild (not just homes) enmasse and quickly which Nest & Ecobee can't do. The beauty is that in this use case, the user doesn't have to buy anything. Just your MS account with Cortana works.

    But I am sure it wont fold down and turn into a phone ...

  9. Avatar

    Jhambi

    This announcement drums up some publicity and interest, but by the time it gets anywhere near release most will have forgotten. Who here is excited for the Harman Kardon Invoke ?....*crickets*

  10. Avatar

    BTG

    To repeat what has been said.. Johnson Controls are the kings of HVAC in the business world. If you are in Bio-tech or Pharma, you will know these guys well. They are not just looking at heating and cooling. They get into sub-zero systems, green buildings and massive pharma cooling fridges that holds all the samples. Their automation and digital controls are impressive. I am of course speaking of massive Operational Monitoring and stage controls hosted on servers with front end application servers for end users.. not thermostats.


    To have Microsoft get into bed with them is a good idea. However will the general population even know who Johnson Controls are? This has bitten Microsoft in the past. Excellent products and partnerships that go no where because the general population has zero idea who these people are.

  11. Avatar

    rameshthanikodi

    Man, this looks really great, but the real story is that this is coming from Johnson Controls. These guys are trusted, more people would buy this over a Nest just for the trust in the brand.

  12. Avatar

    Roger Ramjet

    Johnson Controls is a big maker of Building Controls, and Heating, Ventilation Air conditioning. As I see it, this reinforces a big plank of the Microsoft strategy under Nadella: help incumbents respond to/fight off the invasion of other Tech giants. For example a good chunk of their cloud growth comes from retailers scared to death (and dying) of Amazon. Their Baidu partnership goes up against Google to help Automakers. The Invoke was to help Hartman/Kardon respond to Alexa and Google Home. Now this item helps against Nest (Google), Ecobee (Amazon invested?)

    One one often hears Nadella say his AI is to help humans not overtake them, obviously contrasting to all the stuff Google and IBM do. But I now believe this is more than even the bland interpretation. When incumbent enterprise companies CXOs hear that, and likely when MS sales speak in private, it would mean MS AI is to help YOU, not cause you to become unemployed. So Nadella positions MS as the company on the side of the enterprises (ha, "creators", found another codespeak), it means they likely win even more vs. Google, Amazon, Apple in any generic head to head evaluation even on humdrum items that have nothing to do with AI or anything. In a way it's a reversal of what Google and Apple did to MS on the consumer side from a cool factor perspective. Interesting and possibly brilliant.




  13. Avatar

    Darmok N Jalad

    "The device, called GLAS, will be made by Johnson Controls, which appears to be a maker of high-end building products aimed at the commercial market."

    So with any luck, this won't be the next Band 2.

  14. Avatar

    jboman32768

    I was waiting for the "US Only" "Fahrenheit only" at the end... but maybe that's coming later ?

  15. Avatar

    david.thunderbird

    So Johnson + MS = GLAS holes?

  16. Avatar

    Martin Pelletier

    It's like Timeline, it doesn't exist. It's staged :)

  17. Avatar

    Simard57

    Paul,

    potentially an idiotic question - but what is the link to the promo video?


    google helped

    https://www.theverge.com/2017/7/19/16000474/microsoft-cortana-thermostat-johnson-controls-glas

    or

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQ0FZrc2lRA




  18. Avatar

    jbinaz

    Waiting to find out its fatal flaw. A huge gap in functionality or something big that MS overlooked. It's MS, so there has to be something.

    • Avatar

      Ekim

      In reply to jbinaz:

      This was a fare comment - not sure why it's getting down votes.

      • Avatar

        jbinaz

        In reply to Ekim:

        Because fanboys gonna' fanboy.

        And because people think you can't be critical of how a company has performed in the past and use that to take a guess at the future all while at the same time hoping they succeed.

        I love Cortana. I've always felt it was better than Google or Siri, but it's not nearly as successful. I always felt WP was better than Android or iOS, but without the apps, for most people that makes it a non-starter.

        I hope the Invoke succeeds. Depending on the price, I might even get one. I hope the GLAS succeeds. But the reality is when it comes to consumer tech, Microsoft is quickly becoming an also ran. Paul keeps saying it, and he's right, MS is shifting to the cloud and the consumer stuff isn't where it's at for them. And based on their earnings, they're doing a good job of shifting.

        I'm honestly not sure how the GLAS fits in with anything. Given that Johnson Controls is geared towards the commercial market, what's the point of having Cortana in it? Is it geared towards the home market? Will it be tied to the invoke? Can I control it with Cortana on my Android?

        People wanna' downvote me? Feel free. I hope I'm wrong and that the GLAS and Invoke become huge hits. If they do, I will gladly eat my words.

    • Avatar

      matsan

      In reply to jbinaz:

      Shipping and long time support commitment?

    • Avatar

      JerryH

      In reply to jbinaz:


      I imagine it won't work with Amazon Echo or Google Home (at least out of the gate) rendering it an also ran.


      (Yes, I understood that it has Cortana on it, but you are often in other rooms than where your thermostat is and people have Echo or Google Home in many rooms but nobody has a Cortana device in the room except for PCs).

  19. Avatar

    Patrick3D

    I wonder how all of that white text looks when mounted over a white wall in a home?

  20. Avatar

    Mestiphal

    There are many cool smart thermostats out there, I just wish they were compatible with split ACs

  21. Avatar

    Marius Muntean

    no thanks...anything with MS tech in it is half baked and mediocre. Seen it enough already. Nest, Ecobee 4 are far better.

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