GE raised eyebrows last year when they poured $30 million into Quirky, a New York-based start up that serves as a kind of crowdsourced think tank for product ideas. Perhaps more important than the money, though, was that GE granted Quirky's field of thinkers and inventors access to its huge stash of industrial patents, essentially asking them to do whatever they could with them.
Now, that strategy looks ready to bear fruit, as Quirky and GE have announced the launch of Aros, an air conditioner designed specifically for the smart home. Similar to the
Aros is the first major appliance from Quirky, and a big step forward for the Quirky and GE partnership, which up until now, has only produced small smart home devices with limited niche appeal. These include a
Those products are intriguing, but they only really appeal to consumers with an especially pointed interest in early adoption of smart home gadgetry. Aros, on the other hand, promises to appeal to anyone who needs a good window air conditioner -- a number that figures to be significantly higher than the number of consumers on the market for a smart egg tray. The fact that Aros is set to retail for a very reasonable-sounding $300 should only help broaden that appeal even further.
Design-wise, Aros sports an appropriately slick, modern look, with touch-capacitive sensors and a classy blue vanishing LED temperature display. The 8,000 BTU air conditioner's design allows for upward airflow, which GE claims increases circulation. Aros sports three distinct cooling modes and three fan speeds, and features the usual retracting fabric wings to help ensure a snug fit in your window.
Like the Quirky Spotter and the Pivot Power Genius, you'll be able to control Aros using the Wink smartphone app, available for Android and iOS devices. I was impressed with Wink when I tried it out in order to review Quirky's existing products -- it features an attractive, well-polished design and a very comfortable ease of use.
My only real complaint was that with only a handful of products to play with, Wink's functionality felt somewhat limited. The arrival of Aros should help change that, especially for anyone who's already invested in Wink-compatible products like the Spotter, which presumably, you'll be able to use to control your air conditioner with things like motion and light detection.
Aros is currently available for pre-order on Amazon, and scheduled to ship in early May.