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From The Editors Technology

Kohler’s New Alexa-Integrated Smart Mirror and Supported Fixtures All Set to Take Our Bathrooms Online

Mirror, mirror on the wall – who’s the smartest of them all?

It’s Kohler’s new line of Verdera Mirror! Well, at least, until something smarter comes up!

Manufacturing giant Kohler is allowing Alexa into our bathrooms with its new Verdera Voice Mirror. It will serve as the main unit in your most personal space, controlling the company’s new line of smart bathroom fixtures either through Alexa-enabled voice commands or using the new Kohler Konnect app.

The mirror will house a built-in Amazon Alexa speaker at the bottom, with its front-facing dual microphone all ready to obey your commands. The technology is well-protected in a sealed casing from potential damage by splashing water and condensation.

The mirror, which is expected to hit the market as early as March, has two vertical LED lights on either side, with soft nightlight features and motion sensors beneath that raise the light level as somebody approaches it.

Alexa Mirror
Alexa Mirror

Being the only Alexa-integrated product among the Kohler line of connected bathroom fixtures, the new Verdera will clearly serve as the main unit. While the rest of the connected line-up are Alexa-enabled, they are not equipped with Amazon’s popular voice assistant. They do, however, respond to the Kohler Konnect app.

It won’t be long before you start ordering your mirror to fill your bath, turn on the shower, flush your toilet or read you the news, and more.

In addition to bathroom products, Kohler is also giving our kitchens a dose of the smarts; it’s just a matter of time before you are able to connect to a whole lot of Kohler Konnect kitchen gadgets, as well.

In addition to Alexa, the new Kohler products are designed to work with other voice services such as the Google and Apple voice assistants.

Here are some of the other Kohler Konnect fixtures you can connect to through your Verdera mirror or through the app.

DTV+ Shower System

Kohler’s high-tech showers are going to become much smarter with the Konnect-enabled and Alexa-compatible DTV (Digital Thermostatic Valve) shower system.

While personalized showers have long been around – allowing you control of water temperature and rate of flow, to name a couple of features – the novelty that comes with the new DTV is the combination of Alexa Skills and the Kohler Konnect app. Controlling each feature of the shower system, such as water temperature, water pressure, steam and the likes, is now just a shout away, literally.

The shower can also memorize personalized settings of different individuals sharing the system. For example, a command saying, “Alexa, turn on Sam’s shower,” will activate the shower to Sam’s pre-set shower preferences.

An accessory module will allow existing Kohler owners to upgrade their showers to the connected DTV version.

PerfectFill Bathtub

Use Alexa or the Kohler Konnect app to control the water temperature and fill level of your new PerfectFill bathtub. On command, the tub’s drain will plug and water will start filling as soon as the requested temperature is reached. The water will stop filling after reaching the asked for fill level.

Additionally, you can use the app or voice commands for hydrotherapy as well as Vibracoustic Soundwave Settings.

Numi Smart Toilet

Kohler’s top of the line signature toilet Numi is also getting the Alexa and Konnect treatment.

Use the app to preset user preferences and ask Alexa for services like flushing, bidet cleaning, air drying, odor control, music, feet warming, night light and automatic seat temperature management.

Although it’s unlikely that both Alexa and the app will stop working simultaneously, the company is not taking any chances and is providing for the wall-mounted physical option.

PureWarmth Toilet Seat

Kohler’s new Konnect enabled PureWarmth toilet seat will sell as a standalone product, allowing users the pocket-friendly option of attaching the smart seat to their existing toilets rather than having to change the whole unit.

Sensate Kitchen Faucet

Not be left behind, Kohler’s Sensate kitchen faucet is also going the Konnect way with the integration of the software in the newest version. Again, use the app or voice command to control water temperature and volume level and monitor home water usage. You can also communicate with the faucet using hand motions.

Supporting the Kohler Konnect app will be the new Kohler Cloud back-end system hosted by MS Azure. It will act as an intermediary, facilitating connectivity between Kohler’s new line of bathroom products as well as voice services.

According to CNET, one of Kohler’s project leaders Jonathan Bradley said that the company had to work closely with its voice partners to fine-tune certain tricky issues for a better user experience.

“These AI platforms don’t necessarily have a library built out for bathroom verbiage,” says Bradley, as quoted by CNET. “Controlling our Numi and asking Alexa or Google Hometo flush the toilet, traditionally the AI hears the word ‘flash,’ so it’s thinking about a camera. We did a lot of work with them around how to get the word ‘flush’ to be properly heard.”

“We want to be a brand you trust,” CEO David Kohler told CNET.

“That’s a baseline requirement for us to play in this space. But, by the same token, 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.”

“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. It is a really important room for people. You like to rest, relax, rejuvenate, prepare for the day, rest in the evening as you’re preparing for bed.

You want technology for the right reason there, to make your experience better,” the CEO further said, claims CNET.

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From The Editors Technology

Amazon Reinvents the Alarm Clock with its Latest Alexa Device: The Echo Spot

Spot, the newest addition to Amazon’s line of Echo speakers, is not only a near-perfect alarm clock and everything else you would associate with an Alexa-enabled Echo device but is also pleasing to the visual faculty, an area its predecessors were found wanting in.

At the expense of being somewhat unkind to Amazon, one has to say that the Echo Spot looks more like a product you would expect out of an Apple facility, rather than what we’re used to seeing from Amazon, aesthetically speaking, of course.

Gone is the unsightly retro look of the previous line of Echo smart speakers!

It is the ideal cross between the Echo Show and the Echo Dot, retaining all the goodness of both in a stylishly compact half-hemispherical design, the size of a softball that blends in perfectly in your home.

With a price tag of $130, the Spot is not only expected to give similar Apple and Google products a run for their money, it can potentially topple its own.

Designed to resemble an alarm clock, it’s the perfect bedside companion – not that it looks out of place elsewhere in the home environment.

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With the announcement of the new alarm feature for all Alexa-powered devices last week, the Echo Spot’s release has been perfectly timed.

The new feature allows you to set your alarm to wake you up with music from the streaming service of your choice, be it Amazon’s own Prime Music Unlimited or third party services supported by Alexa-powered devices such as iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, and SiriusXM.

Read more about that feature here:

“Alexa Can Now Wake You Up Shaking a Leg to Your Favorite Tune” (https://timelybuzz.com/alexa-can-now-wake-shaking-leg-favorite-tune/)

Here are some of the main features of the Amazon Echo Spot.

Designed to blend in perfectly anywhere in your home, the Echo Spot’s second-generation far-field voice recognition allows you to watch video flash briefings, see music lyrics, weather forecasts, shopping and to-do lists, browse and listen to Audible audiobooks, and more.

All you need to do is ask Alexa – a cloud-based voice service. It’s the ultimate hands-free experience.

Just ask the Alexa-powered Echo Spot to play music by song, artists, or genre, and see lyrics with Amazon Music and even stream music and books from Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Audible, using Spot’s built-in speaker or connecting to other speakers via Bluetooth or 3.5 mm stereo cable. With multi-room music, you can play music on your Echo devices in different rooms.

Make it read the news, answer questions, and control your smart home devices by simply asking Alexa to lock your doors, turn on your lights, show baby monitors and front door cameras, as well as control your TV, thermostats, garage doors, sprinklers, and more – to give a few examples of its handiness.

You can use voice commands to request an Uber ride, order your favorite pizza, make hands-free calls, or connect to family and friends through video calls or instantly connect to other Echo devices in your home.

With tens of thousands of Alexa skills and growing, the sky is the limit when it comes to the Spot’s usefulness!

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From The Editors Technology

Alexa Can Now Wake You Up Shaking a Leg to Your Favorite Tune

On Monday, Amazon announced the addition of a new feature to all Alexa-compatible devices that will allow you to use it as an alarm clock but with an exciting twist.

You will now be able to set your alarm to wake you up with music from the streaming service of your choice, be it Amazon’s own Prime Music or Amazon Music Unlimited or third party services supported by Alexa-powered devices such as iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, and SiriusXM.

Some Alexa-device users even found some innovative workarounds to set up their alarms to music.

Well, with the introduction of the new feature, Amazon has finally addressed that particular user grievance.

It is no different from how you play music on your Alexa-friendly devices by asking it to play music by singer or band name, song name, playlists, genres, mood and in case you don’t know or remember the song name or singer, Alexa is happy to play it for you using the song lyrics.

It must be mentioned that requests using lyrics and mood is only possible with Amazon Music.

With the exception of Fire TV, the feature works on all Alexa-easy devices and is not just restricted to the Echo range of speakers.

Let’s take a look at how you can get Alexa to set up your music alarm using each of the options the feature allows you.

Set up alarm by Album: If you wish to wake up to music from a particular album, say for example Ed Sheeran’s Divide (÷) this is how you do it.

“Alexa, wake me up to the album Divide by Ed Sheeran at 8 am.”

Now, if you wish to wake up at a different time the next day, or wake up at the same time but to music from a different album, change your request accordingly.

However, if your wake-up time is standard and you are okay to wake up to music from the same album every day, all you need to do is put in a onetime request until you want to change it.

“Alexa, wake me up every day to the album Divide by Ed Sheeran at 8 am.”

The request can even be worded differently like, “Alexa, set an alarm for 8 am to the album Divide by Ed Sheeran.”

Set up alarm by News:  “Alexa, set an alarm for 7 a.m. using NPR news on TuneIn,” or “Alexa, wake me up at 7 am to NPR news on TuneIn”

Set up alarm by Song: “Alexa, set an alarm for 7 a.m. using Perfect by Ed Sheeran”

Set up alarm Genre (recurring request): “Alexa, wake me up to heavy metal music at 7 a.m. every day of the week.”

If you have Amazon Music, you can even use song lyrics or mood from the mood playlist.

Using Lyrics: “Alexa set an alarm for 8 a.m. to the song that goes, “Down every road there’s always one more city”

Using Mood: “Alexa, wake me up with relaxing music at 6 a.m”