Aros is an 8,000 BTU window AC unit that accumulates data about its owner's budget, schedule, and usage preferences. It learns from this information to function almost completely autonomously, without breaking your wallet. If you prefer warmer temperatures—perhaps you’re trying to save money—Aros will adjust to that. Likewise, if energy savings isn’t your MO, the AC unit will blast your home with cool air with complete disregard for mother nature. It’s your choice.
The associated Wink app allows users to remotely monitor, program, and control the device from virtually anywhere. On your way home? Tell Wink to make the place comfortable by the time you arrive. It also turns on and off according to your location and GPS settings, so your living room won't get stuck in the triple digits while you're on vacation.
Aros is a product of the partnership between GE and New York inventors' hub Quirky, and has an opportunity to lead the emerging field of connected, smart AC units.
What’s really nifty about Aros is the price—it’s only $300. That’s cheaper than many “dumb” AC units with higher BTUs. The Nest Learning Thermostat, by comparison, costs $250, but that machine doesn’t actively heat or cool your home. Of course, Aros is a window unit, so it’s not practical for a big house—the target destination for Nest. We wouldn't be surprised to see Aros hanging from apartment windows in New York and Boston, likely to appeal to energy-conscious urbanites in cities where most buildings predate central AC.
While Aros is making quite a splash in the headlines—thanks in large part to the affiliation with GE and Quirky—there are already similar products on the market. Modlet and Volta, for example, were designed with AC units in mind; they're both wall outlets that monitor energy consumption.
But the most important takeaway for the Aros is what it portends. Imagine an Aros that is connected to your circuit breaker—say, with Neurio—as well as all the appliances in your kitchen. Now, imagine that all those devices can be controlled through your phone. Such a setup could autonomously respond to peak energy hours and modify overall consumption habits according to the needs of your fridge, dishwasher, oven, washing machine, and even the wider energy grid that powers it. That is the ultimate vision of the Internet of Things.
The Aros will be available this spring, and can be pre-ordered through Amazon here.