Nest defined smart thermostats by reimagining an important but forgotten home appliance, and Johnson Controls’ Glas is about to take that evolution further. Shipping next week after its official January reveal at CES, the transparent, voice-controlled thermostat today addressed its key issue — dependence on Microsoft’s Cortana — by adding support for Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.
As its name suggests, Glas attempts to blend into a room by adopting a large translucent OLED touchscreen that reveals the wall behind it. The result steps beyond Nest-style modernism into Minority Report-quality futurism, with brightly colored buttons that hover within a glass pane atop a metallic perch.
Yet the key difference compared with Nest is sonic, not visual: Glas has its own microphone and speaker so that you can control it entirely with your voice. When Glas was announced, Johnson Controls spotlighted the thermostat’s built-in Cortana assistant, which is nice in theory but limited in appeal, since Cortana hasn’t achieved the popularity of Amazon’s or Google’s smart speakers.
With the announcement of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support, you’ll still use Cortana when you interact directly with Glas, including both Glas-specific controls and broader Cortana integration with Microsoft’s cloud services. But you’ll also be able to use Alexa and Assistant devices to control Glas’ functions from afar.
In addition to checking the indoor and outdoor temperatures, Glas will let users change the indoor temperature, get the current weather forecast, and control their HVAC’s energy use. The system also monitors air humidity, volatile organic compounds, and equivalent CO2 levels, automatically turning on fans and/or ventilation equipment to improve a home’s air quality.
Glas doesn’t yet have either Siri or HomeKit support, but iOS users do have an option: Microsoft’s free Cortana app. As HomeKit integration tends to be trickier than Alexa or Assistant integration, it’s unclear whether or not Glas will add support; a recently released option from Ecobee notably has full Alexa support built in plus HomeKit integration.
Initial Glas units will begin shipping August 24 for $319. Preorders placed at Amazon, Microsoft, Johnson Controls, and select online retailers will be fulfilled first, followed by general availability elsewhere.