Microsoft’s vision for the smart home is finally taking shape.
Following a demonstration of how its Cortana virtual assistant would work in cars and living rooms last May, the company just revealed it’s working on a smart thermostat called GLAS. The device was built by Johnson Controls and is powered by Microsoft technologies like its Azure cloud platform, Cortana voice helper and Windows IoT core, a version of Windows 10 that’s optimized for smaller devices.
The company unveiled GLAS in a new YouTube video that offers a brief overview of what it’s up to. Contrasted with rivals like the Nest Learning Thermostat and Honeywell Lyric, both of which have round shapes that resemble more traditional thermostats, GLAS appears to be a sleek, transparent touchscreen mounted on a wall. It can tell when a user is present in the room as well as monitor air quality, then change its settings accordingly.
Based on the video, it looks like owners will be able to set the thermostat to different modes such as “home” or “away,” and can program the system to “auto,” “heat,” or “cool.” The screen can also be used to summarize energy savings, display a calendar and outline air quality.
This isn’t the first time Microsoft has worked with a partner to further its presence in the smart home. In late 2016, the company touted its Invoke speaker, an Amazon Echo alternative made by Harman Kardon that supports Cortana. With its GLAS announcement, Microsoft seems to be approaching the Internet of Things market in step with its PC business: by shopping out its software platforms to partners that can build the hardware. The news also comes as an increasing number of home devices are adding support for Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant.
Microsoft has not yet revealed pricing or availability.
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