Over the last three years at CES, companies have integrated voice assistants into a lot of gadgets that don’t really need voice control. However, as this year’s tech convention proved, that certainly didn’t stop companies from forcing Alexa and Google Assistant into even more devices.
Indeed, while CES 2019 had more than its fair share of self-driving car- and 5G-related announcements, Alexa and Google Assistant announcements were just as common.
Here are some of the weirdest smart assistant devices we glimpsed this week in Las Vegas:
Numi 2.0 Intelligent Toilet
Do you really want to talk to Alexa while you’re using the toilet? Kohler, best known for its faucets and other plumbing products, seems to think you do.
The Kohler, Wisconsin-based company plans on releasing its Numi 2.0 Intelligent Toilet at the end of this year for $7,000. For that steep price, users can issue commands to Alexa for controlling the toilet, surround sound speakers, mood lighting, heated seating, as well as a built-in air dryer for people in a rush — or those who just prefer their toilets to go the extra mile.
Roland GO: PIANO
Roland's latest keyboard, a new version of its GO: PIANO, features Alexa built-in so users of any musical background or experience level can change keyboard sounds or settings with simple voice commands. In addition to the hands-free feature, the Alexa Skill will also provide access to libraries of songs and tracks users can play along to, as well as enable sharing of recorded audio clips. The company has yet to release availability and pricing details.
Bosch Indego S+
Mowing the lawn is one of those house chores few people, if anyone, actually enjoys, but what if you could ask Alexa to mow the lawn for you? Simply the issue the command, “Alexa, mow the lawn with Indego,” and Bosch’s robotic lawn mower does just that. When it launches in Europe for roughly $1,260, the Indego S+ will be capable of mowing lawns as large as 4,300 square feet, recognizing obstacles in its path and adjusting its speed and course accordingly.
SimpleHuman Mirror Hi-Fi
SimpleHuman, the company that brought us motion-activated soap dispensers and voice-activated trash cans, wants us to spend our hard-earned cash this spring on a $400 makeup mirror with Google Assistant. Do you really need a small vanity mirror to tell you the weather and play music when your smart speaker is probably only a few feet or yards away? Probably not. Which is why this overpriced, niche device landed on our short list.
Mui: Calm Design Device
Launched on Kickstarter last October and scheduled to ship this fall for an exorbitant $999, the Google Assistant-friendly Mui: Calm Design Device is essentially a voice and touch-activated, internet-connected display buried inside a block of natural wood. Ask it a question, just as you would with Google Home, and a series of hidden LEDs light up to display anything from the weather to the current state of your front door. You can also ask it to play music or turn up your thermostat. Compared to the hundreds, if not thousands, of other voice-activated devices at CES with better, more informative displays, the Mui stood out for its overly simplistic approach and unreasonably high price.
JP Mangalindan is the Chief Tech Correspondent for Yahoo Finance covering the intersection of tech and business. Email story tips and musings to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.
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