Voice assistants are coming to some very weird places

Have you ever looked at your toilet and thought, "I wish I could just shout 'Flush!' instead of pressing a lever?"...

Posted: Jan 18, 2018 11:07 AM
Updated: Jan 18, 2018 11:07 AM

Have you ever looked at your toilet and thought, "I wish I could just shout 'Flush!' instead of pressing a lever?"

You'll be able to flush Kohler's latest high-end toilet, the Numi, with a voice command when it comes out later this year. The company is adding Alexa powers to its smart-bathroom lineup, including a mirror with microphones that acts as the hub for your commands.

Voice assistants are no longer confined to stand-alone speakers. At CES 2018 -- the giant teach and gadget conference in Las Vegas -- devices that work with Alexa and Google Assistant were everywhere. The voice interfaces are creeping into everything, including cars, backyards, pet-food bowls, and kitchens.

And yes, the one place you probably hadn't thought about having an always-on microphone: your bathroom.

Here are some of the more interesting gadgets adding voice-assistant capabilities.

Tell your mirror to start your shower

Kohler's Vendera mirror is the only one of its connected-bathroom products with microphones to hear Alexa commands. It has waterproof speakers, so you can ask it to play music or the news. You can also ask it to control the PerfectFill bathtub or start the DTV shower. And, of course, you can ask it to flush the $5,625 Numi toilet for you. The products are all due out later this year.

Soothe your baby

Project Nursery Smart Baby Monitor System is a $229 setup that lets you tend to you baby with voice controls. You can ask Alexa to play white noise in the baby's room while you're reading in another. Similarly, the Nanit baby monitor, $299, will track your child's sleep in detail. You can ask Alexa how long the baby slept last night or when she woke up.

Feed the cat without seeing the cat

Your pet is hungry. You don't want to stand up. Ask Alexa or Google Assistant to release some chow on the $149 Petnet SmartFeeder 2.0. The voice assistants can also share updates about a pet's eating habits and, if you have a connected camera, take photos of them while they're eating.

Tell your cleaning robot it missed a spot

The Aeolus robot will be able mop or vacuum, pick up your messes, and detect human movements -- such as a senior citizen falling. The robot, which is currently a prototype, will have Alexa and Google Voice integrated so you can tell it what to clean while you do lazy human things.

Turn your surveillance robot into a radio

Lynx is a smaller, cuter robot that can double as an $800 Amazon Echo. It can hear all the regular Alexa commands, and tell you the weather, news, or trivia. The robot is primarily meant for security, and uses facial recognition to spot and record intruders. Lynx can also act as a rolling video-conference robot if you want a far-away family member to feel like they're in the room.

Related: Cool gadgets from CES that tease the future

Ask your fridge to buy milk

The LG InstaView ThinkQ refrigerator has a giant 29-inch screen on the door, so you already know it's dying to be the fridge of the future. LG actually added Alexa powers to a fridge last year. Now it's making the various devices (fridge, stove, dishwasher) communicate with each other as well.

Pre-heat the oven

Also in the kitchen, Google Assistant and Alexa can control a Jenn-Air connected oven. You can switch the temperature while something is cooking or turn it off altogether.

Feel less lonely in your augmented reality glasses

The $1,000 Vuzix augmented reality smart-glasses will have a microphone built in so you can ask Alexa any of the usual questions. It will whisper replies in your ear, but also show some visual answers, such as weather, on the glasses' heads-up display.

Open a giant umbrella

The $8,000 Sunflower outdoor umbrella from ShadeCraft can do a lot more than keep you from getting burned. Use voice controls to command it to open, shut or move. You can use your voice to control its built-in lights or play music (it has speakers). In an attempt to cram in every possible piece of trendy technology, the robotic umbrella also has environmental sensors, object detection, sun tracking, and solar panels.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312521

Reported Deaths: 5498
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion42641849
Lake27152455
Allen18010298
Elkhart17177221
St. Joseph16799229
Hamilton13011167
Vanderburgh9751120
Tippecanoe858727
Porter827986
Johnson6389165
Hendricks6098157
Vigo608384
Monroe536750
Clark515077
Madison5060122
Delaware4905103
LaPorte465595
Kosciusko462339
Howard344277
Warrick325672
Bartholomew316863
Floyd316277
Wayne307770
Cass299931
Marshall299144
Grant272550
Noble255046
Hancock253852
Henry247537
Boone244554
Dubois237931
Dearborn219030
Jackson215534
Morgan210843
Knox187819
Gibson186925
Shelby182155
Clinton180321
DeKalb177831
Lawrence177648
Adams168222
Miami162614
Wabash162521
Daviess156443
Fayette149234
Steuben147113
Jasper144412
Harrison142924
LaGrange142630
Montgomery142127
Whitley137114
Ripley132115
Huntington127410
Decatur126143
Putnam124627
Randolph124519
Wells124429
White123222
Clay122523
Posey122116
Jefferson118816
Scott109020
Greene102653
Jay99013
Sullivan96416
Starke92021
Jennings85314
Fulton84518
Spencer8378
Perry82521
Fountain7798
Washington7527
Franklin69927
Carroll68613
Orange67328
Vermillion6243
Owen6087
Tipton57627
Parke5706
Newton56312
Rush5438
Blackford53412
Pike50919
Pulaski39515
Martin3585
Brown3424
Benton3402
Crawford2941
Union2702
Switzerland2575
Warren2382
Ohio2317
Unassigned0266

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 382743

Reported Deaths: 6274
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin51161671
Cuyahoga37222743
Hamilton30493372
Montgomery20518236
Butler15199148
Lucas14566417
Summit13933327
Stark9193206
Warren841976
Mahoning7530300
Lake710067
Lorain6690106
Clermont593651
Delaware572537
Licking564577
Trumbull5584147
Fairfield554464
Greene538066
Clark5218101
Allen494989
Marion476759
Medina471657
Wood4598107
Miami437568
Pickaway404048
Portage358972
Columbiana357698
Tuscarawas342667
Richland328539
Wayne327394
Mercer296047
Muskingum252510
Hancock245940
Ross244559
Auglaize236435
Darke232560
Erie230268
Putnam229449
Ashtabula228354
Geauga211851
Scioto200616
Union19668
Shelby194017
Lawrence193039
Athens19134
Seneca182919
Belmont170229
Madison163119
Sandusky157729
Preble156521
Huron155519
Defiance144823
Holmes140439
Logan133517
Knox131718
Fulton128726
Jefferson128613
Crawford126817
Washington125227
Ottawa124530
Clinton109115
Williams10799
Ashland107825
Highland103718
Brown10135
Henry101323
Hardin99719
Champaign9825
Van Wert97318
Jackson96212
Fayette92717
Morrow9202
Guernsey89314
Coshocton85215
Perry82912
Adams80313
Pike7661
Gallia76513
Wyandot73217
Paulding66511
Hocking64516
Noble62224
Carroll48810
Meigs39612
Monroe32321
Morgan2685
Vinton2246
Harrison2193
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 41°
Angola
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 40°
Huntington
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 43°
Decatur
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 42°
Van Wert
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 42°
Mostly Cloudy Black Friday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events