Microsoft has unveiled a sleek smart thermostat called GLAS that's backed by its Cortana digital assistant. This is Microsoft's first smart thermostat, and it looks incredibly promising – not to mention utterly gorgeous – based on a teaser video Microsoft released today on YouTube.
Built by Johnson Controls, the company that invented the first electric room thermostat, GLAS not only taps into Cortana voice controls but also the Windows 10 IoT Core operating system and Azure Cloud computing services.
As you might expect, GLAS senses when you're in a room to adjust its settings accordingly. It monitors indoor and outdoor air quality and provides information on your energy usage and habits. And if a quick glimpse from the video is to be trusted, you can also check and update your calendar using GLAS.
All of this information is displayed on a translucent touchscreen, and you can speak directly to the wall-mounted GLAS, uttering commands to Cortana.
Microsoft's video suggests the thermostat is meant for homes, businesses, doctors' offices and just about anywhere else you can imagine smart atmospheric controls being put to use.
Smart 'stat strategy
We're still missing critical GLAS details such as how much it costs and when it will release. Microsoft directed us to Johnson Controls when we asked for this information, and while the company didn't provide concrete details, a Johnson Controls spokesperson said more details about GLAS's launch will be announced later this year.
The smart thermostat space has historically been dominated by the likes of Alphabet's Nest, but Microsoft's first foray has a ton going for it, including a gorgeous design and all the heft of Microsoft's digital assistant, software and cloud systems behind it.
GLAS joins the Invoke speaker as one of the first Cortana-powered devices for the home. Made by Harman Kardon, Invoke is due to release in the fall. It's part of a grander scheme by Microsoft to place Cortana in third-party smart home devices, including refrigerators and, yes, smart thermostats.
Microsoft's new device is still unproven, and we won't know for sure how good GLAS is until we get our hands on it. But as smart speakers like Google Home, Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod jostle for space in an increasingly crowded market, it's a wise play by Microsoft to do something different.