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Moen made waves at the Consumer Electronics Show 2018 (CES) with the announcement that its U by Moen Smart Shower will now support Amazon Alexa, and later this year, Apple Siri (with Apple HomeKit). In this post we will break down the U by Moen shower system and share some of the products features that may be of interest to the tech savvy home owner.
What is U by Moen?
The U by Moen enables you to personalize your shower and control it remotely via wireless app, voice control through Amazon Alexa or Apple Siri, or using the digital controller installed in the shower. When you purchase the U by Moen Shower System, you are purchasing a digital valve (either for two or four water outlets) and the accompanying digital controller. To complete your system, you will also need body sprays and shower heads. The digital controller connects to the digital valve via a wire connection in the back, and enables normal shower functions as well as the option to save presets so each user can personalize their shower. The controller also connects remotely to the U by Moen Shower app enabling you to start, stop or pause your shower. Using a WiFi connection, you can also connect to your Amazon Alexa voice assistant, so your voice does all the work.
What Makes This Shower so Special?
The U by Moen was originally conceived to help you personalize your shower experience by setting temperature, shower length, and spray preferences and saving them as presets in the digital controller. This is particularly useful if you share your shower with a significant other or other family members. The ability to set the length of your shower is also a nice feature, especially if you have a hectic morning routine because the shower will turn off after the allotted time has passed, helping keep you on schedule. The U by Moen app brings all of these settings to your mobile device in addition to the ability to start and pause a shower remotely.
With U by Moen now supporting Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri, the system has added the ability to use your voice to start and stop your shower and access presets. Initially, a voice controlled shower probably does not seem necessary, though it does add some additional convenience to a busy morning routine. If you have an Amazon Alexa device in your kitchen, you can simply ask Alexa to turn on your morning shower while you enjoy your morning coffee. Your shower will turn on, get to temperature and then pause, alerting you that your shower is at temperature and ready. When you get back to your bathroom and step in to the shower you can restart the shower and skip the need to wait for the shower to heat up. This can help shave some time off your morning routine and help minimize water usage from letting the shower run after it has reached temperature.
Initially there will be some limitations with the Amazon Alexa functionality as the voice commands are treated as a skill, instead of a native integration. This means that some of the voice commands don't use natural language or simple phrases such as, "Alexa, run my shower," and instead you have to specify which system you want to turn on, in this case, "Alexa, ask my Moen to run a shower." For some technical reasons, current versions of the U by Moen will not be able to support Apple Siri, and you will have to wait until the next generation is available.
How Much Will It Cost?
Your cost depends on if you are installing a two- or four-outlet system. The combined cost of a two-outlet system (digital control plus digital valve) is approximately $800, and the four-outlet version is $1,600. On top of this cost, you will also need to budget for shower heads and body sprays, and some incremental cost for installation.
The U by Moen is breaking some new ground as the first voice controlled shower system on the market. The new features and benefits are innovative, though probably not impactful enough right now for most to justify the additional expense. Smart tech for the bathroom is in its infancy, and will remain a niche product line for the high end luxury home for the foreseeable future.