Amazon’s Dash buttons — the adhesive-backed pieces of plastic that you’re supposed to stick around the house and push when you need more toilet paper or toothpaste or water filters — always seemed like a temporary solution. The same week the company introduced them, it also announced that its Dash Replenishment Service would let appliance manufacturers incorporate a few lines of code into their smart devices that would automatically reorder goods when supplies are running low.
Whirlpool, Brita, and Brother were all on board to make washers, water pitchers, and printers that could send you detergent, filters, and toner before you ran out. Today, Amazon announced that General Electric, Samsung, August, Gmate, Oster, Obe, Petnet, Clever Pet, Sutro, Thync, and Sealed Air are joining the program.
The devices would use something like infrared sensors or scales to determine how much kibble you have left. Obe’s Pro Bowl keeps track of how much food your dog eats by weight, then it deducts that amount from what’s listed in your inventory.
GE is planning to release a high-efficiency washer that will dispense the proper amount of detergent for each load type, then reorder more when it senses it’s running out. Miele has a similar feature on some of its upcoming machines. Instead of making consumers guess how much detergent to put in, it pulls in the right dose from a big supply. That means users don’t have to lug a jug to the machine every time they do the wash. It also helps cut down on wasted detergent — we tend to overuse soap on our clothes, especially with high efficiency machines.
Undoubtedly Amazon will soon offer more and more products through DSR, but right now it might not be possible to order your favorite type of coffee or specific brand of pet food. There aren’t a lot of details about how much control users will have over what gets sent and whether you’ll get a notification to approve the purchase before it goes through, as with the Dash button.
While you may always buy the same type of dog food, you might want to shop around for cheaper batteries for your smart lock. And while one month, Brawny might have cheaper paper towels than Bounty, the next month that might be reversed by a sale. And if Dash doesn’t give you the cheapest option, is automatic ordering really that great?