Hands-On With The Alexa-Enabled U By Moen Smart Shower - CES 2018

Moen's presence at the Consumer Electronics Show has been relatively strong for several years now, and the latest iteration of the Las Vegas, Nevada-based fair is no exception, with the company using it as an opportunity to unveil the latest addition to its 2017 smart shower lineup - support for Amazon's artificial intelligence assistant Alexa. The cutting-edge shower still features a digital control panel that acts as a valve and allows you to control its output volume, water temperature, spray patterns, and a number of other performance aspects. With the arrival of support for Amazon's digital companion, users will also be able to simply tell Alexa to turn the shower on or off and recite more specific instructions to the device. In practice, interacting with the Alexa-enabled U lineup is as simple as telling your assistant you're about to take a shower at a defined temperature and not worrying about anything else, which is as futuristic of a feeling as you can currently get in a bathroom.

The shower is relatively quick to reach your desired temperature and maintain it while also not being wasteful; while your initial request for a shower at a specific temperature will result in a burst of water, the shower will stop gushing it out as soon as it reaches its target and will just maintain it while idling, making fiddling with valves while looking for the perfect temperature a thing of the past. Consumers who like the idea of a connected home but would prefer not speaking to AI assistants will still being able to control Moen's smart shower via the Alexa mobile app that can be downloaded to Android devices from the Google Play Store and Amazon App Store, though doing so largely defeats the purpose of owning a smart shower.

Besides reciting complex configurations every time you want to take a shower, you'll also be able to save presets for Moen, which adds yet another level of convenience to the affair. The implementation showcased in Las Vegas relies on a third-party Alexa skill developed by Moen but a more deeply integrated solution is understood to be coming soon and should additionally facilitate the process of controlling your shower by speaking to the AI assistant. The setup developed by the Ohio-based company allows for four showers to be connected to Alexa simultaneously, whereas manually taking over the digital valve doesn't require any extra steps. The two biggest limitations of the current solution are the fact that some commands can still be rather lengthy due to the nature of Alexa skills and that you won't be able to ask for particularly cold or hot showers due to safety reasons, though you'd still be able to manually turn the heat up or down. The demo unit brought to CES was limited to a range between 60 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 48 degrees Celsius) but the finalized version of the service may introduce a slightly different array of supported temperatures.

Besides Alexa, Moen said the U Smart Shower lineup will also receive support for Apple's Siri, though that particular functionality is set to be introduced later this year. While Siri is arguably the least capable mainstream AI assistant, it should work with Moen's offering just as well as Alexa seeing how the device's integration with digital helpers is said to be identical across all services. Given the company's recent product practices, it wouldn't be surprising if Moen's U series also receives support for the Google Assistant in early 2019.

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Dominik Bosnjak

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Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]