For $250, the Nest thermostat will connect to the Internet and learn your habits, saving you money on your energy bills. For $300, the Aros window air conditioner will do the same thing—plus it will actually cool your apartment, too.
Aros is the perfect example of the future of the Internet of Things—a world in which all of our devices communicate with the cloud—and a smart A/C unit is just another option on the shelf of the Home Depot.
And Aros really will be on sale at Home Depot (and Amazon)! That’s the distribution power of the armchair inventor platform Quirky and the multinational corporation GE. The companies teamed up on a series of smart products last year; Aros is the first result of them doubling down on this partnership in 2014.
Aros is a self-contained, turn-key "Internet of Things" device, like Quirky and GE's electronic rather silly Egg Minder refrigerator egg tracker. In less than a minute, you can pair your iPhone to your air conditioner to calculate your monthly spending, throttle your energy usage, or just cool the room off before you get home. Unlike the Egg Minder, the Aros is a cornerstone, utilitarian product that millions of homes could rely upon.
"Some of our earlier [Internet of Things] products were whimsical. They weren’t, ‘Oh my god! Thank god we have GE’s help to make this egg tray!" admits Quirky CEO Ben Kaufman. "They were great products. We were super proud of them. But what we have now is truly a result of GE infrastructure."
The idea was born when Kevin Nolan, VP of Technology at GE, had a meeting at Kaufman's office. Nolan brought up the possibility of pursuing a better air conditioner. Kaufman dug into Quirky’s database to see if any of its users had submitted ideas. It just so happened, a Quirky member named Garthen Leslie—a Department of Energy vet—had pitched the general idea behind Aros on Quirky already. (The effort will yield Leslie about a 5% royalty off of Aros revenue.)
For the next three months, Quirky designers and GE engineers went back and forth to turn the idea into a real product. Along with developing a series of algorithms to make the air conditioner smart, Quirky polished the industrial design. Whereas most window A/Cs blow air from the front grill and suck it in from the bottom—recooling already cold air inefficiently—the Aros gulps warm air from the front, and spirals it out through the top. This vortex is less likely to be recycled. And since cold air sinks, as it drifts from your ceiling to your floor, your head is able to appreciate all the cold air your feet usually get.
The Aros is available for pre-order now. The easiest place to find it today is Amazon.