Just about everything is getting “smart” and web connected these days — even the boring old window AC unit.
Quirky, a New York City company that crowdsources product development, and General Electric announced the Aros this morning, a smart and sleek air conditioner controlled by a mobile app. It’s up for pre-order today on Amazon for $300, and it will be available in major retailers this summer.
What makes this special? The Aros learns your usage habits, automatically shuts off when you leave your home, and even makes predictions about your future energy usage. And, of course, it doesn’t look like any AC unit I’ve ever seen.
The Aros probably seems a bit quaint compared to something like Nest‘s learning thermostat, but there are plenty of people (especially apartment renters) who can’t make any major changes to their heating and cooling systems. During the warm seasons, their only option is to roll out their window AC units.
This is the first major device to come from the companies’ recent partnership (GE poured $30 million into Quirky as part of its recent $79 million round). Quirky has raised around $170 million to date — clearly, investors are eager to get a foothold in connected devices.
The Aros began as an idea that Garthen Leslie posted on the Quirky platform based on his frustrations with his own inefficient AC and his experience working at the Department of Energy. “I was tired of choosing between wasting energy [and] suffering through the stuffy summer heat,” he said in a statement.
“After receiving the submission for this invention, it was clear that this was a product that absolutely needed to exist, but a challenge that most companies would shy away from,” Quirky founder and CEO Ben Kaufman said in a statement. “With the support of GE’s technology expertise, scale, and supply chain, we were able to focus our efforts on leveraging our community’s ideas into a beautifully designed product where every aspect of the product’s interaction was attended to.”
If anything, the Aros shows what’s possible when you combine the efforts of smart consumers, a crowdsourcing platform, and traditional consumer electronics companies. It would have taken Leslie and Quirky a lot longer to develop an AC unit from scratch, and who knows how long it would have taken GE to think of something like this on its own.
Hat tip: TechCrunch
1876 was also the year that Thomas Alva Edison opened a laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey, where he could explore the possibilities of the dynamo and other electrical devices that he had seen in the Exposition. Out of that laborator... read more »
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