Consumers are getting increasingly comfortable with voice assistants like Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. So comfortable, in fact, that they’re looking to use those assistants in their bathrooms — even while on the toilet.
That’s according to public relations firm Walker Sands’ 2018 “The Future of Retail” report, based on a survey of 1,600 U.S. consumers. Owners of voice-enabled devices reported using them most frequently for common functions, “like playing music, looking up information or checking the time.” The majority of people kept them in the living room, kitchen or bedroom.
But others want to use voice commands while in the bathroom: 14 percent of survey respondents said they keep their devices there already, and 19 percent said they would like to be able to use hands free commands in the shower. And, 13 percent “wanted more voice-controlled options for hands-free commands while on the toilet,” according to the report.
It appears some brands are listening, though it will cost you.
In August, Kohler is releasing a suite of voice-enabled bathroom fixtures from faucets to mirrors. Using your preferred voice assistant (Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple HomeKit) you can turn on the sink with your voice using Kohler’s Sensate Faucet for $660, or get your shower running at the perfect temperature with its DTV+ Shower System for an estimated $3,300. The $1,332 Verdera Voice lighted mirror has Amazon’s Alexa technology embedded within the product, so you can ask it to play music, listen to the news, look up facts or use it as a hub to control the other devices in the suite. There is also the Numi Intelligent Toilet, launching in early 2019, which has a heated seat, plays music and displays colored lighting.
The company sees voice technology as a way to make rushed grooming routines easier. “Voice command in the bathroom makes sense because most of our tasks in the bathroom already utilize our hands — shaving, applying makeup, brushing hair — so having the ability to simply use our voices is an efficient and effective way to multitask,” Nicole Allis, a marketing manager at Kohler tells CNBC Make It.
In March, Moen released an Alexa-enabled shower system called U by Moen. It can turn on the shower, change the temperature and preset shower preferences with just a voice command. A system that controls two shower heads costs $1,225 and a system that controls four shower heads costs $2,265.
“Whether it’s connectivity with our home heating and cooling, sound or lighting systems, consumers are personalizing their spaces with smart home technologies,” Michael Poloha, a senior product manager at Moen tells CNBC Make it. “We thought, ‘Why not give consumers connected water?’”
The system currently just works with Alexa, but Moen has plans to work with Apple’s HomeKit in the future, and possibly Google, according to the company.
While privacy is an obvious concern with smart devices in your bathroom, Kohler CEO David Kohler says the technology is here to stay.
“Our life is connected now. We have devices on our wrist, we’re living in a connected world. We’re learning how to use this [technology] and how it can really hopefully improve our lives,” he told CNET in Januaryabout the line of voice-connected products. “Because of the intimacy of the bathroom space, you want to be careful and you want to preserve privacy, but at the same time, it can be an area where you can enjoy a lot more convenience.”