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Amazon just redefined smart (to mean completely exasperating)

A new Amazon product will nag you in ways that you may not have been nagged before.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer on
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You want one, don't you?

Screenshot by ZDNet

I was contemplating whether existentialism was the best philosophy for survival in our world, when up popped Amazon with a happy new idea.

This being Amazon, you know that it won't be an ordinary idea. After all, the company recently created a cuckoo clock that is allegedly smart.

Here, though, is something you never knew you wanted and can't wait to have in your house. If you're the sort of person who adores being nagged until the end of time.

For this is the Amazon Smart Soap Dispenser, a new extraordinary thing that will change your life. I feel you already conjuring what a smart soap dispenser should do.

Dispense absolutely the right amount of soap by viewing the state of your hands, perhaps? Squirt soap on your hands without you needing to even touch it? Sing ditties of cleanliness, post-ablution?

Oh, not quite.

This level of smartness involves nagging you. Or, in Amazon's words: "The automatic dispenser's 20-second timer lights up as you lather, guiding you to wash for the CDC-recommended minimum amount of time."

Yes, in our days where ignorance and paranoia fight for world domination, you need to be urged to wash for the requisite 20 seconds. Or else what?

Does the Smart Soap Dispenser suddenly speak loudly with Alexa's portentous tones about your washing failures? Especially when someone else enters the bathroom.

"David only did 14 seconds! Disgusting!"

Oh, not quite.

You can, though, hook your Smart Soap Dispenser up with a "compatible" Echo device to create something that you desperately need -- another Alexa routine.

A comedy routine, I hear you cry. Well, yes. Amazon suggests you can have your Echo "automatically play songs, jokes, and more when you wash." What might the "more" be? A Shakespeare sonnet? 20 seconds of dog-barking?

You know that someone will concoct 20 seconds of soccer crowd cheering, Joe Manchin and Lindsey Graham's most loyal moments, or some other painful sound-effect. Just to shock guests and enjoy their own astute amusement.

At $54.99, this is sure to fly off the metal frames of every Amazon warehouse and straight onto America's doorsteps.

But does anyone truly need it? Does anyone really want to time every single handwashing moment -- after all, some handwashing occasions simply need more seconds than others? And what if the CDC changes its guidelines? It does that a lot.

Yes, but technology doesn't exist to account for human vicissitudes. It's just there to entertain, right?

Every new Alexa device: Scenes from Amazon's event [in pictures]

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