GM and hi everyone! Before jumping into this week’s smart home newsletter, a special welcome to the 44 newest readers of the smart home newsletter! Thank you for giving me space in your inbox.
Well did ye all survive the festivities? For me personally, it went fast this year for some reason. Santa was in our house for 23 years and not so sure about next year 😔 And here we are at the beginning of 2023, and I’d like to wish all of our newsletter readers a happy new year 🧨.
Here’s to Year 35 of the smart home 🏚️ and check out what I’ve got for you this week in the developing smart home space:
Amazon Rolls Out Matter Support to 17 Echo Devices
Recently, Amazon rolled out Matter support to 17 Echo devices and a variety of other smart devices, including smart plugs, switches, and bulbs. The tech giant confirmed that this is only the beginning, as it plans to roll out Matter support to more devices next year. Amazon’s plan is to bring Matter support to its most popular devices without compromising the platform’s stability.
If your smart device is not on Amazon’s list of Matter-compatible devices, don’t worry because the company intends to push Matter support through next year. The second phase of the rollout will focus on the remaining Echo lineup as well as a bunch of other Amazon devices.
The $11,500 Toilet with Alexa Can Now Be Installed in Your Home 🚽
As of last week, the $11,500 Kohler Numi 2.0 Smart Toilet with Alexa is now available to be installed in your home. Even though Kohler announced the new smart toilet back in 2019, not much has changed. The smart toilet still comes with in-built Alexa, LED lights, and speakers.
This toilet is also fitted with a bidet that can wash both front and back bits, UV lights are ideally designed to clean the bidet, as well as the bidet’s controls for the temperature, pressure, and position.
Additionally, the Kohler Numi 2.0 Smart Toilet will feature auto flushing, a heated seat, auto deodorizing, an air dryer, an emergency backup flush, and an automatic mist to minimize residue. One of the best things about this smart toilet is that it has a lid that automatically closes and opens.
It’s worth noting that all the features of this smart toilet are controlled using a handheld remote, while the LED lights and surround sound are controlled using the Kohler Konnect app. However, Kohler hasn’t mentioned anything about Matter support yet.
LG’s New ArtCool Gallery Air Conditioner 🤳
LG has announced a new version of its ArtCool Gallery air conditioner that comes with a 27- inch display. It can display several exclusive static images chosen using the LGThinQ app, or family pictures sent to it using a smart device. This air conditioner is reported to have a proprietary dual inverter compressor and cooling that uses up to 70% less power than your average AC.
The LG ArtCool Gallery air conditioner will also come with its own AI Dryer feature, which will remove any moisture that forms inside the unit depending on the operation time and mode selected. Additionally, there is an easy-to-use grill at the bottom of the unit for simple cleaning. LG plans to unveil the new ArtCool Gallery air conditioner at the upcoming CES 2023 in January.
A Roomba Recorded a Woman in the Toilet 🤖
Back in 2020, gig workers in Venezuela started sharing a series of images on various online forums. These were pictures of a young woman wearing a lavender T-shirt, sitting on the toilet. The pictures were not taken by a person but by development versions of iRobot’s Roomba J7 series robot vacuum. They were then sent to a company called Scale AI to label audio, photo, and video data used to train AI.
These were the kind of pictures that internet-connected devices usually capture and send back to the cloud, only with stricter storage and access controls. However, earlier this year, MIT Technology Review obtained 15 screenshots of the said photos.
iRobot, the world’s largest manufacturer of robotic vacuums, confirmed that the images were captured by its Roombas in 2020. However, the company confirmed that the images came from special development robots with hardware and software modifications that are never available on iRobot consumer products.
These special robots were only given to paid collectors and employees who had already signed written agreements to confirm that they were sending data streams for AI training purposes. It was up to them to remove anything they considered sensitive from the robot’s space. Therefore, all individuals had already agreed to any images or videos that appeared on these data streams.
Generally, iRobot and other robotics companies explain to homeowners the procedure, related risks, and how to mitigate these risks. However, these explanations are never comprehensive, and homeowners are usually distracted by the fact that they’re getting a small adorable robot that will clean their floors at the click of a button. Interesting and a little concerning for Roomba owners.
Smart Home AI-Generated Illustration of the Week!
This is it for today, See you next Sunday morning 😉. If you have colleagues, friends, or neighbors that would benefit from knowing about smart home devices, please consider sharing them. They can sign up for the newsletter by going here.