Picture: SUPPLIED
Picture: SUPPLIED

Kohler intelligent toilet

Cool factor 1/5
Usability 2/5
Value for money ½/5

Smart speakers are all the rage internationally and over the past few years have tended to dominate the annual extravaganza of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Maybe it’s because CES is held in Las Vegas that someone thought it wouldn’t be out of place to launch a "smart" toilet with Amazon’s voice assistant (VA), Alexa, built in.

Yes, you can sit on the commode and talk to Alexa.

There are some places and contexts where tech is useful and advances humanity. The toilet isn’t one of them.

The Kohler Numi 2.0 "intelligent toilet" has many more tricks. It can warm the seat, and has a soothing blue glowing light. I’m not so sure about the "personalised cleansing and dryer functions".

Amazingly it wasn’t the only "smart" toilet to be launched this January. Nor the cheapest.

Toto’s Neorest NX2 intelligent toilet sells for $13,000. It can automatically close its lid or flush itself, or, wait for it, you can flush it by remote control.

Some product designers — and their bosses who sign off on this kind of absurdity — clearly have too much time on their hands.

In general, VAs are very helpful, the many friends who use them tell me with glee. You can say "Alexa, read me the news". Or "Alexa, play The Bipolar Ponies’ latest album". Or "Alexa, what is the weather like today?"

Personally, I am not willing to hand over my privacy for the minuscule convenience they offer. To build up a database of your voice — and all voices — Amazon listens to everything you say. Everything. Creepy much?

A "smart" toilet costing nearly R100,000 is not a clever way to spend your money and hardly the best vehicle for Amazon’s VA. But if you are willing to spend $7,000 on a so-called "smart toilet" it prompts the question: is the toilet smarter than the person ready to splash out R95,000 on such a basic part of life?