- Amazon's partners are building Alexa into all sorts of crazy gadgets where you wouldn't expect to find a smart assistant.
- At CES 2019, CNBC's Todd Haselton finds Alexa in a lawn mower, a dog bowl and a dishwasher.
- It's one way that Amazon is competing with Google Assistant, which has a similar strategy.
There are two things I'd like to tell you about CES 2019.
One: Google had a roller coaster at its booth.
Two: Support for Amazon Alexa is being built into pretty much every gadget you can think of.
There's a reason for a lot of new products. Last year, Amazon announced tools that make it even easier for anyone to add Alexa into their gadgets, and Amazon's Alexa-ready microwave was a pretty good proof of that concept.
I walked around the show floor this week and found a bunch of products with either Alexa in them, which means you can talk directly to them, or support for Alexa, which means you can control them with an Amazon Echo. Some of the devices are new, while others were announced in the last year but seemed to have flown under the radar.
Here are some of the silliest or most convenient — depending on your perspective — places you can now find support for Amazon Alexa.
Look, everyone laughed when I reviewed Amazon's microwave last year, but I think there's a real convenience to having Alexa in some home appliances. Case in point: I saw a bunch of ovens that will let you say things like, "Alexa, preheat the oven to 350 degrees." One that stood out was from WLabs, a division of Whirlpool that created an oven with support for Alexa that has built-in sensors to identify the food you're cooking once you put it in the oven.
LG had a dishwasher that lets you check in on the status with Alexa. So, if you start it and then start on other chores, you can ask Alexa how much time is left on the washing cycle before you use Alexa to call your kids and tell them to unload it. It also has Amazon Dash, which knows how much detergent you use and can automatically order new detergent when it knows you're about to run out.
1990s you: "Billy! Mow the lawn!"
2019 you: "Alexa! Mow the lawn!"
Bosch has a robotic lawn mower that works with Amazon Alexa, which means you can finally follow your homeowner's association guidelines and get the lawn trimmed every weekend. You don't even have to get up from the couch. Alexa can also be used to check the last time your lawn was mowed and when it will be cut next.
Now you can talk to Alexa while you're ticklin' the ivories on the Roland Go:Piano. On it, you can use Alexa to play tunes from Roland's library of play-along music. You can also ask Alexa to record what you're playing, and then ask it to send that tune to anyone you want. That's cool if you think of it like this: Imagine asking Alexa to record your kids and then sharing the recital with grandma.
Now Alexa is just a glance away. The Vuzix Blade glasses were on display at CES. They're like sunglasses, but you can see a projection of information on the screen inside. There are all sorts of uses, from reading text messages to seeing an incoming call. I used them open an Amazon Alexa app and then asked how tall the Empire State Building is. Looking through the lenses, Alexa showed me a picture of the building and told me the height.
It's time to get your dog to cough up part of that Amazon Prime bill. I saw a smart dog feeder with Alexa in it. It's pretty cool, particularly if you can't always get home in time to feed your pet at a certain time. Now you can ask Alexa to feed your pet with a command such as: "Alexa, Ask PetNet to feed Mabel one cup."
Kohler had a $7,000 smart toilet that works with Alexa. You can ask Amazon's voice assistant to raise the lid as you walk into the bathroom, warm up the seat on a chilly day, change the glowing lights on the bottom of the seat or even play music. Who doesn't like a bit of Bob Marley on the pot?
Most importantly, you can ask Alexa to flush when you're finished.
It didn't work very well because I kept having to shout at it, but I saw a "mirror" (it was more of a screen, really) with Alexa built in. It's made by a company called HiMirror. Unlike some of the other products here, Alexa didn't have any special skills that worked specifically with the mirror. It just exists there in case you want to play music or ask it questions. Alexa, Alexa, on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?