The notion of home automation may entail lights being turned on automatically and air conditioning adjusting the room temperature to a preferred level when homeowners arrive at their home. How about a toilet that automatically detects the usage of toilet paper and places orders before it is out?
Target, a nationwide U.S. retailer, is planning to launch a new service with Bluetooth-connected devices that can automatically order toilet paper, paper towels and hand soap when they run out.
The service is called Target Fetch, which includes three Bluetooth-connected devices equipped with sensors – a toilet paper spindle, a paper towel holder and a soap pump.
To activate them, homeowners will first need to connect each device to the Target Fetch app, and answer questions like how much toilet paper, paper towel and hand soap supply they usually have at home and which brands they prefer.
The sensors will track how much toilet paper, paper towel or hand soap are used, and the app will learn the usage via algorithms. 10 days before when the app predicts the products will run out, homeowners will get an alert and be asked whether to place orders from Target automatically. The shipping will be free.
The retailer will launch an Indiegogo campaign on May 1. Instead of launching the service to the general public directly, Target wants to test the market’s reaction from the crowdfunding platform first.
Target will start shipping the devices to Indiegogo backers in October, and use the information gathered from these early adopters to decide how Target Fetch will proceed.
E-commerce giant Amazon was one of the earliest retailers to try automatic ordering. Amazon Subscription Services allow customers to schedule shipment of certain products to their homes.
Amazon Dash Button is a Wi-Fi connected device that lets consumers order food, beauty products and household goods simply by pressing the button.
The company opens the Dash technology to third-party manufacturers, who can build automatic ordering directly into their products. For instance, Brita Infinity, a Wi-Fi connected water pitcher, automatically orders new water filters for users from Amazon directly.
Target Fetch, on the other hand, doesn’t require the purchase of a new home appliance to enable automatic ordering. It’d be interesting to see how homeowners will respond to the sensor technology in toilet paper and hand soap applications.