“Alexa, flush my toilet!”

2 min read

From Vehicles to Toilets, Voice Is Being Added Into Everything

Vuzix announced Alexa-enabled smartglasses. Toyota and Lexus announced that Alexa will be built into some of their vehicles. Kohler even debuted their smart toilet, a product I’m sure you don’t know how you ever lived without. By all accounts, voice was the talk of the show at this month’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Photo courtesy of Kohler

Alexa, and other voice assistants like Google, are being incorporated into more and more things. This means you’ll have more places to interact with Alexa and Google (along with apps that are built on these platforms, like Tali) outside of your kitchen, office, or through your smart speaker. Soon, you may be telling Alexa to turn down your Nest Thermostat through your new Toyota Camry, without ever taking your hands off the wheel.

For me, some of these things make a whole lot of sense, and others less so. Which begs the question—why is voice a useful tool in the first place?

The answer? Because it exists in the ambient space around us without the need for a screen. Voice-first technology is essentially invisible. It solves problems by eliminating friction from the current process, which is why I think it’s so great.

How many times have you told yourself “I need to order more dog food” or “I wonder who the Green Bay Packers play this week?” (I’m a Wisconsin native—Go Pack Go!) In the past, to make these things actionable, you had to run to your laptop or mobile device and open a browser. Doesn’t seem that bad, right? Maybe not, but when you can just say those things out loud, without ever having to touch a screen, it saves you time and eliminates friction, and that subtle difference across a variety of tasks is where the magic takes place.

It doesn’t stop in your home, though. Think of all the things you do at the office that could be automated with voice. Hate setting up conference calls and booking conference rooms? Just use Twine, which automates the process via tools like Slack and Alexa. Sick of tracking your time on sticky notes, and then spending hours on manual time entry? Use Tali, your time-tracking sidekick powered by Alexa, to easily capture your time and sync it directly to your existing invoicing or billing system.

Voice is all about freeing you up from a virtual interface, surrounding you with invisible utility that is with you throughout your day. With that in mind, here’s my take on the different voice-enabled use cases announced at CES.

  • Alexa in your vehicle? Super useful. When commuting to and from work, your hands are busy and you have time to think. Alexa can help you be productive during that time.
  • Alexa in sunglasses? Helpful in terms of use case (for example, if you’re walking or riding your bike—think of Siri for Apple AirPods, which I find very useful), but the actual smartglasses are bulky,  so I think this one has a ways to go.
Photo courtesy of VRFocus
  • Alexa in your bathroom? This may surprise you, but I like this one. Imagine starting the shower with your voice? Or, in my case, running a bath for my 2-year-old son without running to the upstairs bathroom to do so? And perhaps best of all, never having to touch another toilet handle—which is obviously more sanitary!

Voice is all about solving problems by leveraging invisible technology to eliminate friction. Plus, wherever Alexa goes, Tali goes—so it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be able to log your time entries from your office, vehicle, or even your bathroom!