“Alexa, make my toilet seat warmer.” So far, most of us have been more familiar with “Alexa, what’s the weather today?” or “Alexa, show me pictures of cats”, but now we may have to grow accustomed to Amazon’s voice assistant being, well, privy to far more intimate aspects of our lives.
At CES this year in Las Vegas, American plumbing company Kohler unveiled a product that has already made a few headlines: the Kohler Numi 2.0 intelligent toilet.
And whether one loves the concept of an Internet of Things khazi or hate it, it is undeniable that Kohler has understood that coming up with the eccentric gadget at the world’s largest technology trade show is sure to catch the public’s attention. Just ask the makers of the HAPIFork, who dominated news cycles from the show in 2013 with a vibrating fork designed to stop you eating too quickly – much to the annoyance of Samsung, Sony, LG et al.
Kohler presented its latest technology in a dramatic video claiming that “it’s your bathroom – shouldn’t it be as individual as you?” – and individual it certainly is. To accommodate your every restroom preference, Kohler’s toilet can perform such vital tasks such as automatic deodorisation, hands-free opening and closing of the lid, as well as adjusting water temperature, pressure and spray.
But it’s not all about poop practicality – Numi 2.0 also promises to produce the perfect ambiance for your those intimate moments. It oversees the ambient surround lighting system to adapt to whatever “mood” you select via the Konnect app of through voice control. The promo video has a sharp-suited gentleman walking into his bathroom and commanding his convenience to “start chill time”. The lights on the toilet turn to a cool blue, but presumably the Numi 2.0’s seat isn’t chilled at the same time. Then again, each to their own. Then, thankfully, he gets in the bath rather than taking a place on the throne.
The whole system that has been upgraded since last year’s version, which then offered only eight static colours. Numi 2.0 this year, however, has become a setup of dynamic and multi-coloured surround lighting and sound. It plays music on the built-in surround sound Bluetooth speakers, that naturally let you pick your own playlist, ideal as you could select your current favourite single for a quick tinkle or perhaps go old-school and choose a full album if you’re settling down for a copious evacuation.
Such a situation would be the ideal time to bring into play not only the seat but also the foot warmer, which some middle-of-the-night bathroom goers may call a necessity. And indeed, Kohler guarantees that along with the toilet’s automatic flush, this will make night-time trips to the bathroom “hassle-free”, assuming all is well with your bowel.
And as for those who are thinking more pragmatically, be reassured: the Numi 2.0 requires electricity to function, according to the company it can support up to 100 “emergency flushes” in the case of power outage. And who hasn’t been in need of an emergency flush, from time to time?
“Alexa, order more toilet paper”
The Numi 2.0 already includes a touch-screen remote control to manage the palette of WC options it has on offer, a feature it has inherited from the previous iteration of the intelligent toilet from last year’s CES, one which it is already selling at $8,000. But the big news of this year’s show was that its speakers will now have Amazon Alexa built in, taking AI companionship to a new level. Not only will this will let you set your preferred toilet settings by voice command, but also access Alexa’s traditional skills, such as check the weather or listen to the news all while getting down to other business.
Aside from its Internet of Toilet, Kohler also extended the products range this year to create an entirely connected bathroom powered by voice control, that comes under the name of the Veil Lighted bathroom. In Kohler’s connected bathroom, the bathtub, toilet, mirror and three-piece vanity are all equipped with the dynamic multi-coloured light system that Alexa can synchronise to particular moods you will have pre-set in the company’s app.
Kohler is working with Signify, the smart-lighting extension of Philips, to integrate smart light bulbs in its Veil Lighted collection. All sounds good so far – let’s just hope your new bathroom voice assistant doesn’t face the same privacy issues it has in the living room, or repeat Alexa’s creepy laughing again – that’s not quite the well-being toilet experience promised by Kohler.
Not for every bottom
Regardless of whether you think that Alexa in the loo is too invasive, there is something more that is likely to stand between you and the smart bathroom – your wallet. At CES, Kohler also revealed the prices of its systems, and they are hefty. Numi 2.0 starts at $7,000 and upsells to $8,000 for the bachelor-pad black model.
The system is scheduled for a Q4 of 2019 release, however, leaving you plenty of time to decide if you want to spend your savings on the ultimate connected toilet experience.
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