GLAS Smart Thermostat with Cortana

GLAS Thermostat Looks Beautiful, Has Cortana, Alexa and Google Assistant Support, but Costs $319

In July 2017, Johnson Controls and Microsoft announced the Cortana-enabled GLAS thermostat. The design is elegant and the company stresses the “intuitive” uses interface. But three other things make it stand out:

  • It has Microsoft’s Cortana embedded into the device
  • There is a feature that monitors air quality
  • It is priced at $319

Consumers can pre-order today on Johnson Controls dedicated GLAS website, and soon on Microsoft’s website and in the company’s retail stores. Other retails will be added when units begin shipping on August 24, 2018.

Cortana Onboard, But Also Alexa and Google Assistant

The fact that Johnson Controls decided to include Cortana is significant. Microsoft doesn’t have a meaningful position for its Cortana voice assistant in home-based smart speakers. By embedding Cortana into GLAS, Johnson Controls is offering a Cortana access point in the home. In addition, it represents another foothold for smart home device integration. Voicebot reported in May that Cortana was a distant fourth in smart home integrations with device support only in the dozens. By contrast, Google Assistant claimed over 5,000 integrations at the time and Amazon Alexa over 12,000.

Despite starting with Cortana, it is not surprising that Johnson Controls also decided to launch with support for Alexa and Google Assistant given their broad consumer popularity. Don Albinger, vice president & general manager, building management systems, Johnson Controls commented in a media release:

We’ve worked to expand the functionality of GLAS ahead of its launch and are excited to announce that GLAS now works with both Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant. We are confident that customers will really value these enhancements that give them greater control over their space and more insight into critical data like air quality and energy savings.

And because GLAS has a microphone and speaker, it is designed to be a full-fledged voice assistant access point. The product launch materials say, “Users can easily adjust, refine and redefine their space with simple voice control. Amazon Alexa, the Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana allow users to check for and audibly receive indoor and outdoor temperatures, set increases or decreases in thermostat temperature and obtain the current weather forecast, among other skills.” Microphones will soon be everywhere. We are quickly moving past the smart speaker and smartphone voice assistant choke points.

Air Quality Monitoring as Differentiator

Voice and mobile app control are now standard features of smart thermostats. Ecobee and Nest both have products with these features as well others such as monitoring humidity and if people are present in a room. Their high end models list price for about $250. So, how does Johnson Controls justify the $319 price tag? Well, the design is nice but the company videos continue to stress the air quality monitoring.

“GLAS also tracks and assesses multiple aspects of air quality to ensure that occupants are consistently comfortable, knowing that a healthy home starts with the air its residents breathe. In addition to temperature, GLAS reports humidity, total volatile organic compounds (tVOCs) and equivalent carbon dioxide (eCO2) inside a home or building. When air quality falls below moderate levels, GLAS can intelligently operate a fan or ventilation equipment.”

Smart homes are getting smarter. The combination of voice controls, machine learning and sensor-based features are all becoming standard features. It is good news for Microsoft that Cortana has a seat at the GLAS table, but it is bad news that it is still far from a standard like rivals Alexa and Google Assistant. That fact makes the availability of Cortana and Alexa integration this week all the more important.

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