At this year’s CES, countless products on display promoted their assisted capabilities. Last year’s show delivered us the first glimpses of virtual assistants embedded into everyday devices, but 2019 previewed the phenomenon’s mainstreaming—Google Assistant in a mirror, Amazon’s Alexa taking queries from inside your toilet and more. There is valid skepticism about the possibility of all of your devices listening in on you. Letting the Google or Amazon assistant into your home (whether it be in your phone, hub, toilet or TV) should always be preceded by diligent research and discussion. Further, while Apple boasts some of the most secure and private channels on the market, their assistant, Siri, is lagging because of it. Altogether, smart or assisted devices aren’t for everybody. Seen at CES, these products are part of a movement that is still just beginning.
Kohler Numi 2.0 Toilet
The base of your toilet may be one of the last places you’d expect to hear Amazon’s Alexa echo from. But Kohler debuted the 2.0 version of its Numi toilet and it’s equipped with a customizable LED light, bluetooth music capabilities and hands-free control. The latter is likely the most appealing feature for potential buyers because never having to touch your toilet again—at least to control it—is both a germ-battling opportunity and a more sanitary experience. While using the toilet and checking the weather or traffic reports was once only feasible with a phone in hand, now your toilet can do that work for you. It isn’t cheap though, retailing for $7,000 in white and $8,000 in black.
Simplehuman Mirror HiFi Assist
Simplehuman’s Mirror HiFi Assist acts as a light, speaker and Google Assistant—handling the duties of several devices at once. (An earlier version of the mirror also supported Alexa, but this version doesn’t.) The mirror is available with Google assistant ($400) or without ($250) and either way, the space-saving potential here is attractive for customers living and/or working in close quarters.
Gourmia GCMW4750 Coffee Maker
Gourmia’s new GCMW4750 coffee maker features voice-controlled grinding, brewing and a new 40-ounce water reservoir—meaning your morning brew can be made from bed. The machine alerts users when the coffee is ready. Even more conveniently, a reminder can be set on the machine so it makes coffee at the same time daily—and it’s brewed within minutes. This is another innovation that seeks to make mornings a little more efficient.
Petcube Bites 2
Petcube introduced its Bites 2 model at CES and it impressed with its 1080p HD video, 180-degree view of the room (which is more appealing for the pet video calls you can make and receive). It also features Alexa-assisted capabilities. Using Petcube’s app, treats can be tossed to your pet and your voice can echo out of its built-in speaker. And, the device can be equipped with its own Amazon Dash button to remind you to order treats when the inventory is low.
LG Instaview ThinQ Refrigerator
The LG Instaview ThinQ fridge comes equipped with Amazon’s Alexa (which allows you to reorder, play music or set reminders verbally), an OLED display for seeing what’s inside and an accompanying app to keep an eye on your supply—even when you’re thousands of miles away. The smart fridge is an exciting innovation for busy families and no-so-good cooks; the appliance can recommend recipes based upon what’s inside.
Roav VIVA Car Charger
Instead of fumbling with the assistant inside your phone (because that too often requires hands) Anker released the Roav VIVA—an Alexa-equipped hub for your car’s charging port. The device plugs in, supports charging through two ports and can handle all of your queries—whether it be voice-calling, music, food deliveries or navigation. Instead of shelling out for a new car that has Alexa or a Google Assistant built-in, equipping your current model with Roav VIVA is the more cost-efficient option.
Amazon Echo Wall Clock
Amazon debuted a brief line of Alexa-equipped minimalist devices earlier in 2018. The standout is the Echo Wall Clock. However, designed to be an accompanying item to any pre-existing Alexa-equipped product, the clock does not have a microphone to communicate with the built-in assistant. So, if you’re someone who is skeptical of Amazon’s invasion of your home, the clock can operate similarly—providing a timer, alarms and reminders—without listening in on you.
Sonos + Google Assistant
Though this was news in 2018, Sonos pushed the release to this year in order to fix some bugs. The functionality is similar to that of a Google Home Hub and the benefit here is that it is indeed a Sonos speaker with the same quality that consumers have adored—with some exclusive features.
Google E-Ink Prototype
The little E-Ink prototype, displayed inside Google’s impressive booth at CES, is a mobile screen that receives push notifications from your smart devices. Customizing your notifications using a smart speaker, the screen keeps you updated without you asking—whether it’s a traffic report before you leave for work or weather updates more frequently as your plans demand. The above photo is a conceptual rendering from Google’s pre-CES release, but the version they showed in Las Vegas was more square and a bit bulkier.
Images courtesy of respective brands