Johnson Controls invented the first thermostat 135 years ago, and it’s now taking its first step into smart thermostats with the GLAS. It’s a truly unique thermostat that’s powered by Windows 10 IoT Core and Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant. It also has a 5.9-inch translucent OLED Samsung display that’s the centerpiece for such an unusual device.
I got a chance to take a closer look at the GLAS during CES this week, and it’s as impressive in person as it is in pictures. The striking translucent display means the thermostat will fit into many different rooms, and Johnson Controls is targeting this at consumers. The thermostat is powered by Cortana, so you can use digital assistant with voice controls to do all of the things Cortana is capable of and also control the thermostat itself.
I wasn’t able to test Cortana fully due to some connectivity issues in the Las Vegas casino we tried GLAS out in. Johnson Controls has basic voice feedback for Cortana right now, without any visual response. This will change once the device ships later this year, but for now the little blue circle of Cortana is all I got to see.
In terms of the thermostat interface and features, it’s as capable as you’d expect. GLAS will support temperature controls, weather forecasts, and it has three sensors inside that monitor air quality automatically. It will do a lot of the smart thermostat features you’d find in rival units from Nest or Ecobee, and you’ll be able to install GLAS yourself. Johnson Controls has built wire guides into the device, and a separate mobile app will also help to control settings on the thermostat.
The interface is fairly basic, and it doesn’t go too deep so you never get lost in the controls. There’s a home screen that provides air quality information and local weather, and quick links to the most used settings. A proximity sensor at the front of the device will wake up the display if you’re nearby, and you can use touch or voice input to make changes.
Johnson Controls is planning to start accepting preorders for the GLAS in March, priced at $319. That’s more than the $249 for an Ecobee thermostat with Alexa, and you don’t get the option of Alexa or Google Assistant on the GLAS yet. Johnson Controls isn’t ruling out those assistants from appearing on the GLAS in a future software update, but for now you’re paying the extra cash for the uniqueness of a translucent thermostat that will look great on a wall.